Those Hardy Floridians: Rudolph Jessie Hicks Jr., 30, was arrested in Brooksville, Fla., for trespass, but not before he had gotten up from a police dog takedown, five Taser shots, and an entire can of pepper spray (December). And police in Port St. Lucie, Fla., were considering whether to charge Ms. Robin Bush, who strangled a 130-pound Rottweiler after it would not let go of her tiny Yorkie (December). And a 20-year-old man suffered only minor injuries after driving his car through a fifth-floor wall of a parking garage and landing inside the second floor of a store at the Shoppes of Sunset Place in South Miami (December).
(1) Police in Denton, Texas, arrested two teenagers in October and charged them with robbing two visitors who were passing through town from Montana; the victims said they were on their way to Baton Rouge, La., because they needed money and had read on the Internet that a medical school would pay $100,000 for testicles. (2) The Dutch retirement home Seniorenpand, in Rotterdam, bills itself as the world's only old-age community for incorrigible heroin addicts and has a long waiting list for its few rooms, according to a December dispatch in The Scotsman. (One satisfied resident bragged that he had some "pretty good stuff" the night before.)
A 59-year-old veteran NASCAR driver from Scottsdale, Ariz., was killed in November when he fell off of a Segway scooter (going 5 mph) at a Las Vegas go-cart race and hit his head. And in China's Guangxi Zhuang region in September, five people asphyxiated while conducting a ceremony in a dangerous lead mine (frequently shut down by the government), including a prominent feng shui expert there to advise on improving harmonic energy flow. And in Aliquippa, Pa., in October, a 28-year-old man was electrocuted on his first day at work as an electrician.
(1) Britain's Office of Communications, which rules on viewers' complaints about TV programs, decided in November that the on-air, manual collecting of hog semen on the "reality" show "The Farm" did not violate standards in that, in the office's opinion, the pig did not feel "degrad(ed)" by the experience. (2) Because a British Broadcasting Corp. employee got a toe trapped in a revolving door at company offices in Birmingham (cracking a toenail), executives in December sent a memo to the workforce of 800, using stick-figure drawings, with instructions on how to walk through the doors.
In October, as part of the government's vigorous "social order" anti-drug campaign, dozens of police officers in Bangkok, Thailand, raided the trendy Q Bar late on Saturday night and locked it down, detained the nearly 400 customers, and passed out plastic cups so that each one could submit to an on-the-spot urinalysis. Said the bar's manager, "(The raid is) pretty much an annual event. It's a little bit like Christmas."
-- In Salt Lake City in November, federal judge Paul G. Cassell, remarking that mandatory-minimum sentencing laws gave him no choice, sent a 25-year-old, small-quantity marijuana dealer to prison for 55 years (because he had a gun on him during two of the transactions). Two hours before that, in a crime Cassell described as far more serious but not subject to the same mandatory minimums, he sentenced a man to 22 years in prison for beating an elderly woman to death with a log.
-- In November, Jens Orback, Sweden's minister for integration and gender equality, who had been under fire for not being aggressive on the job, denied on the radio program "Ekot" that he was intolerant of sexual minorities. Said Orback: "I had a wonderful aunt who lived in Canada with a horse. I thought it was wonderful. Let people live as they wish." Later, attempting to explain himself, Orback insisted that the aunt's relationship with the horse was platonic.
-- A St. Paul Pioneer Press reporter, interviewing neighbors of the people who shared a St. Croix Falls, Wis., home that was condemned after being overrun with 450 cats, found that most neighbors had failed to notice the house's putrid smell. Several said that the awful odor from the neighborhood's fish hatchery and the awful odor of the neighborhood's sewage treatment plant probably overrode the awful odor of the house.
-- Brigham Young University's Newsnet reported in November on Marilyn and Elton Pierce of Provo, Utah, who because their telephone number is easily confused with a BYU information line, estimate they have received 25,000 wrong-number calls in 14 years (averaging to five per day). Marilyn, in her 70s, said she didn't have the couple's number changed because she doesn't mind the calls and in fact rather enjoys talking to people.
A 39-year-old man in Chillicothe, Ohio, was hospitalized in December after an unsuccessful suicide attempt that accidentally blew his own house to pieces and did heavy damage to neighboring homes. The man had turned on the natural gas to kill himself, but then realized that other houses might be in danger, and just as he dashed to the basement to turn off the electricity, the house exploded (probably from an electrical spark) and was leveled. A month before, the man had tried to kill himself with automobile exhaust and a garden hose, but his car ran out of gas before he could die, and he then hooked up a propane tank for the same purpose, but once again, he outlived his fuel supply.
In 2002 News of the Weird reported that H. Beatty Chadwick had served 6 1/2 years in jail in suburban Philadelphia for civil contempt of court for not producing $2.5 million in marital assets that he was supposed to split with his ex-wife, with the U.S. jail record for contempt believed to be 10 years. As of October 2004, he is still in jail, closing in on the record, and the amount owed is up to $4.2 million, with Chadwick sticking to his defense that the money had long since been spent. Said Chadwick's lawyer, "This (nonexistent) money is like the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. We are the Saddam Hussein of the marital world." [Washington Post, 11-11-04]
News of the Weird reported as far back as 1998 on optimistic pet owners preparing to pay large sums for a cloned model of a deceased dog or cat, mentioning a lab at Texas A&M University planning to clone a collie-husky named Missy (who was, of course, according to her owners, "perfect"). The lab's Dr. Mark Westhusin and his team managed to clone its first dog, "cc," in 2001, and has subsequently cloned cattle, goats, pigs and a cat. In December 2004, another outfit, Genetic Savings and Clone (of Sausalito, Calif., and Madison, Wis.), announced that it had delivered a kitten to a woman for $50,000 that is a DNA replica of Nicky, a cat that died last year at age 17.
Paul Eugene Levengood, owner of the Tasty Flavors Sno Biz dessert shop in the Chattanooga, Tenn., suburb of Red Bank, was charged with two counts of sexual battery in November when two 19-year-old female employees said he had occasionally spanked them for workplace errors (for example, once for forgetting to put a banana into a smoothie drink). A defensive Levengood pointed out that the women had each signed a form, "I give Gene permission to bust my behind any way he sees fit." Police found at the store many photographs of women's posteriors, even though a Sno Biz executive called Levengood a "very Christian person."
(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 18737, Tampa FL 33679 or WeirdNews@earthlink.net or go to www.NewsoftheWeird.com.)