"Thierry F." recently outed himself as a professional welfare bum, bragging in his brand-new autobiography that he has lived very well off the French government for most of the last 24 years and that, even after his unemployment benefits expired, he found a second unemployment program to leech from. The latest one pays almost all of his monthly home loan, according to an October dispatch from Paris in The Times of London, and provides free medical care plus a "Christmas bonus," leaving an equivalent of $214 per month for what the delighted Thierry calls his "leisure activities."
-- Citing a "code of honor" acquired during 26 years in the Air Force, retired pilot Ralph Paul, 54, decided in March that he would not pay for the $15.99 Shrimp and Scallop Verdura at Angellino's restaurant in Palm Harbor, Fla., because it contained only five small shrimp and five scallops. After he complained unsuccessfully and walked out, the restaurant sent sheriff's deputies after him, and he was charged with misdemeanor fraud. Paul insisted to a St. Petersburg Times reporter that he couldn't look himself in the mirror if he had paid, or even negotiated a settlement, so he hired a $500-an-hour New York lawyer and, in a one-day trial in October before a restive jury, he was acquitted.
-- Oh So Clever: The top administrator of Minnesota's Freeborn County said in October that he would relinquish his personalized license plates after state officials threatened to investigate several complaints about them. Administrator Ron Gabrielsen said his FOAD1 plate stood for "Freedom Offers Americans Democracy" (No. 1 priority) (instead of what some understood to be "(word omitted) Off And Die") and his HMFICFC stood for "Helping Minnesota Farmers Increase Crops in Freeborn County" (instead of what some understood to be "Head Mother (word omitted) In Charge of Freeborn County").
-- The Problem Is Goats: (1) A traffic officer in eastern Ontario, who ticketed a speeding motorist from Switzerland in September, said the driver blamed it on the lack of goats. He told the officer that he felt liberated to drive fast because, unlike in his country, there were no goats wandering onto the highway. (2) Authorities in the Nigerian village of Isseluku arrested a man for killing his brother in September, but the man insisted that he had only tried to move a goat from his farm but that when it wouldn't move, he hit it with an ax, at which point it turned into his brother (according to an Associated Press report).
-- Charles Henson was convicted of attempted murder in Bristol, England, in October, but insisted he couldn't have done it. His ex-wife said he had stuffed his latex-gloved hand down her throat, knowing that she had a latex allergy that would be fatal within minutes. Henson said that was impossible because, according to the couple's "contract" setting out their sadomasochism, bondage and domination rules, "section four" states very clearly that "the master does not have a right to kill the slave."
-- Washington Redskins tight end Chris Cooley told The Washington Post in August that his brilliant performance in a December game (three touchdowns against Dallas to get to the NFL playoffs) was also the very reason that his own fantasy football team was knocked from the playoffs, in that "Chris Cooley" plays for one of his opponents.
-- Anthony Mesa failed a drug test in September because, he said, he was medically unable to urinate into a cup under supervision, and he was remanded to a judge in Deland, Fla., to reconsider his house-arrest-only sentence. Mesa's crime was that in August 2005, he spiked a Mountain Dew bottle at a grocery store with his own urine as a prank.
-- Irony in Houston: In September, when a squad car in Houston signaled Richard Ramos, 35, to pull over, he sped away, having heard in the news of the police department's new, no-chase policy for minor traffic violations. However, the pursuing officers were actually Harris County sheriff's deputies, who are free to chase, and they quickly caught him. Also in September, Houstonian Michael Kubosh deliberately ran a red light in a traffic-camera intersection for the purpose of challenging the system in court, but two Houston police officers personally witnessed the violation and wrote him a regular ticket (which overrides the camera's $75 violation with a ticket of up to $200).
In a movement that grew from several women to more than 100 by mid-October, girlfriends in Pereira, Colombia, went on a sex-strike to urge their boyfriends away from the drug-gang life. Pereira is the same city where the sensational nightly TV soap opera "Sin Tetas (No Hay Paraiso)" originates, which is the story of a flat-chested young woman who constantly schemes to raise money for breast-augmentation surgery, which she views as the only way to the good life. (In one storyline, she fails at prostitution, in that she cannot attract customers because of her flat chest.)
Terence Michael Dean, 37, was arrested in September in Cool, Calif., after a homeowner arrived from a weekend away and found that Dean had commandeered his house and set up various confusing rituals. Dean (who ran from the house clothed only in a sheet) had turned on all faucets, placed packages of meat in the sink and bathtub, built a shrine of Buddha on a bongo drum, left a trail of potting soil from a walkway to the drum, left three plant stands in the garage holding teddy bears, unearthed about 100 houseplants in the yard, and left a cup of water containing a piece of paper reading "I love Cherry."
-- Can't Possibly Be True: (1) Randall Terry, a veteran anti-abortion activist pushing a family-values campaign for the Florida state senate, acknowledged that his own family's photos in his campaign are minus his two adopted children, whom he has ostracized for, respectively, being gay and giving birth out of wedlock. (2) The election board of St. Louis County, Mo., acknowledged in October that an unnamed election judge had cast two absentee ballots for the Nov. 7 election but defended the man, saying he was old and probably just forgot that he had already voted. (3) Bill Crozier, running for Oklahoma state school superintendent, proposed in October that schools protect pupils from armed intruders by making desks out of thick, used textbooks to stop bullets and that new textbooks come with Kevlar covers.
-- Sex 'n' Politics: (1) Korinne Barnes, 29, a single mother of three running for the North Kingstown (R.I.) School Committee, was finally persuaded in September to remove her MySpace.com personal listing in which she described herself as "smart, sexy, fun" and a "voluptuous chocolate sister with a big booty." (2) By contrast, Loretta Nall, 32, the Libertarian Party write-in candidate for governor of Alabama, remains unembarrassed by her sexiness, telling reporters that she hoped that voters attracted by her cleavage would listen to her campaign platform. She offers a T-shirt to supporters reading, "More of these boobs and (referring to pictures of her opponents) less of these boobs."
Wrong Place, Wrong Time: A 50-year-old driver was killed in the Western Australian outback in October when a kangaroo was hit by another vehicle and came crashing through the man's windshield. And in October, a 32-year-old inmate at North Carolina's Caledonia Prison Farm drowned when, riding horseback on a work detail, he was thrown into a pond when a bull charged his horse and scared him.
(Visit Chuck Shepherd daily at http://NewsoftheWeird.blogspot.com or www.NewsoftheWeird.com. Send your Weird News to WeirdNewsTips@yahoo.com or P.O. Box 18737, Tampa, FL 33679.)