"Reeking" As a Career Field: Homeless New Jersey man Richard Kreimer said in February that he had settled, on undisclosed terms, part of his most recent lawsuit, against a transit company and two drivers, for having denied him rides because of his foul odor. Kreimer's history includes a $150,000 settlement in 1991 with the public library in Morris County, which had tried to keep him out because of the odor, and, by his count, $80,000 in additional lawsuit-related income (though some went for legal expenses). Kreimer dropped another foul-odor lawsuit in February, against a transit company and a train station in Summit.
-- (1) Health authorities in Thailand began warning teenage girls in January of the dental risks of do-it-yourself orthodontics (colorful metallic teeth braces worn for fashion to match girls' outfits, according to an Associated Press dispatch). (2) In Lunar New Year celebrations in January in China, 120 million rural peasants traveled to and from cities via jam-packed trains, despite meager restroom facilities. As a result, according to a Reuters dispatch, there was a massive holiday run on adult diapers.
-- A 300-page indictment detailing more than 1,000 allegations of election fraud was returned in February by a grand jury investigating the coal-mining town of Appalachia, Va., following reports of absentee-ballot bribery by two town officials. Prosecutors accused candidates' operatives of offering the locals such goodies as beer, moonshine and cigarettes and, in one case, a supply of pork rinds.
(1) In January, history professor David Weale of Canada's University of Prince Edward Island offered B-minus grades to any students in his overcrowded class if they would just go away, and 20 of the 95 accepted. (However, the administration found out, and Professor Weale, who had retired last year but returned to teach that one course, re-retired.) (2) Former Fairfield University student William Rom, 24, won $111,000 from the school in a February verdict because he was improperly suspended four years ago. At the time, Rom was accused of entering a women's restroom, fighting, ripping posters off walls, dumping water on students from a second floor, smashing a bathroom mirror, running naked on campus, and (underage) drinking (and subsequently vomiting in the dorm.)
-- (1) The head of the Jo Richardson comprehensive school in Dagenham, England, prohibits students from raising their hands in class, according to a January Daily Telegraph report, to keep those not called on from feeling "victimi(zed)." (2) And rules drawn up in February by the Welsh Assembly called for schools in Wales to ban all kissing, even in school plays (but an assembly spokesman said Romeo could give Juliet "a peck on the cheek").
-- In February, Bolivia's foreign minister proposed to include coca leaves as part of school breakfast programs, noting that they contain many times more calcium than does milk (and unless processed as cocaine, are not mind-altering). And in November, the Coffee Industry Association of Brazil proposed to help fund a breakfast program for a million schoolchildren as young as age 6, provided that the meal includes coffee.
Developer Ryan Pedram was finally ordered to stop work on his new three-story home in the Bronx in New York City after he had begun building it flush with a disputed property line, including constructing one cinder-block wall to encompass the trunk of an oak tree that ostensibly belongs to his neighbor. (He had figured on winning the property dispute and removing the tree; his plan, in case of loss, was not reported.) Also, in Brooklyn, a judge recently allowed industrialist Simon Taub to install Sheetrock walls in several rooms in his home as a temporary solution in a pending divorce, to allow both husband and wife to share the house (reminiscent of the 1989 movie "The War of the Roses").
-- Unusual Obsessions: (1) orchids (When collector Sian Tiong Lim, 32, was recently jailed for four months in England for orchid-smuggling, orchid expert Eric Hansen told United Press International, "There is a lunatic fringe to the orchid world, and a fine line between the average grower and the horticulturally insane.") (2) rare bird eggs (Collector Gregory Wheal, 42, also was jailed recently for four months in England after a 30-year history of stealing from hundreds of nests. His lawyer told the judge that Wheal needs professional help.)
-- When Travis Frey, 33, was charged in Council Bluffs, Iowa, in February with kidnapping his wife, she gave police a "Contract of Wifely Expectations" that he had allegedly written for her (subsequently published on TheSmokingGun.com, which called it a contract "for the ages"). In painstaking detail, the husband prescribed the micromanagement of her life, including what she would wear in public and to bed and the exact times she would be available for specified sexual relations. Instructions on hygiene and body-shaving were given. Eight explicit, non-subservient wifely reactions were banned. She could earn "Good Behavior Days" with exemplary performance but would lose them on specified misbehaviors, including complaining about the contract.
Police in Milford, Texas (just south of Dallas), arrested a man in February who had fled a traffic stop, and in the ensuing chase, saw him tear open and toss out bag after bag of a substance (but some blew back in the car). When finally stopped, said police chief Carlos Phoenix, the man was "literally covered in marijuana" from the blowback. And in January, in Anchorage, Alaska, a man who had painted his face Smurf-like blue robbed the Super 8 Motel, and police put out a description. A short time later, a caller reported a man with blue smudges behind his ears, and police soon arrested Daniel Peter Clark, 19.
In 2003, News of the Weird reported that the Pentagon's Defense Threat Reduction Agency had been Internet-monitoring a facility on Scotland's Isle of Islay whose webcam was showing images suggesting a chemical weapons lab but that, after lengthy surveillance, the agency had found it to be a whiskey distillery. In February 2006, that distillery (Bruichladdich, one of the U.K.'s most adventurous) announced it is preparing to make a 92 percent-alcohol whiskey whose recommended dose is two spoonfuls. Said the managing director, "To be honest, I'm just hoping the distillery doesn't explode."
The Continuing Jesus and Mary World Tour: "Sightings" have been made in just the last three months in North Vernon, Ind. (Jesus on a wooden door), Jacksonville, Fla. (Jesus on a nacho-warming tray), Cozimel, Mexico (Jesus on a flower pot), Laredo, Texas (Jesus on a truck's tailgate), Mexico, Maine (Mary on the charred wood of a burned-out home), Beachwood, Ohio (Jesus on a pancake), Manchester, Conn. (Jesus on a piece of sheet metal), Dallas (Mary on the bark of a tree), and airborne from New York City to Florida (Mary on a potato chip served by Jet Blue).
Police in a Columbus, Ohio, suburb arrested Alan Patton, 54, outside a movie theater restroom in February and later listened to him describe in detail his unusual behavior. According to police, Patton is obsessed with collecting and consuming the urine of young boys, which he said he has done for over 40 years. "I like it because it makes me closer to them like I'm drinking their youth." His modus operandi is to shut off a urinal's flush water, wait for a boy to finish, and then gather up the urine. "Listening to him describe it," said one detective, "it's like listening to a crack or cocaine addict. He's addicted to children's urine."
(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 18737, Tampa FL 33679 or WeirdNewsTips@yahoo.com or go to www.NewsoftheWeird.com.)