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News of the Weird



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According to an April report from the Denton, Texas, police files, a motorist was unfazed when an unmarked truck (transporting medical wastes from Parkland Hospital in Dallas to Oklahoma) began leaking blood. Although it splattered the motorist's windshield, the uncurious man merely stopped, cleaned up, and drove away.


In June a lawyer (not named in the original news story) won a $3,000 settlement over an underwear purchase against the J.C. Penney store in Newport, Oregon. The man claimed that the first time he wore the shorts the inspection tag stuck to his penis so firmly that he could not remove it. After trying soapy water and rubbing alcohol, he went to a doctor, who removed the sticker with an adhesive dissolver, which, however, caused a rash. When the rash disappeared, a scar was left in the shape of the sticker. The settlement compensated the man for lost work time and for marital strife.

Last September police in Green Bay, Wisconsin, took a 16-month-old child into protective custody after his parents left him alone while they went barhopping. (A family friend reported that the baby had been left alone.) Even though police had taken the child before the parents returned home, they did not report the child missing until the next afternoon, following the conclusion of the Packers game on TV.

Los Angeles police searched in April for an eight-month-old girl whose parents (a realty agent and a legal assistant) had gotten so drunk they could not remember her whereabouts, offering as their best guesses her crib (raising the possibility that she had been abducted) and a taco stand the couple had visited earlier in the day.

Oklahoma state representatives Gary Bastin and George Vaughn brawled in Vaughn's office in April over who would have the privilege of naming a House chaplain for the week of April 15. Vaughn had been in charge of naming the chaplain, but Bastin claims the job was promised to his man for that week.

Among the mistreatments of children that came to light in a series of articles in Japan's Daily Yomiuri last year: a teacher punished a disruptive eight-year-old by spitting into his mouth twice; junior-high teachers buried two disobedient students up to their necks at a beach, so that waves splashed their faces; and a 41-year-old sex education teacher was fired for instructing a class of girls to remove their clothes to check out each other's bodies. In China, a teacher was recently dismissed for fastening the lips of two talkative nine-year-olds together with acupuncture needles.

In May police charged 389 organizers and spectators after raids on illegal cockfighting tournaments in Vinton and Scioto counties in Ohio. One organizer, Larry Cantrell, told reporters he believes it is man's inherent right to watch cockfights: "Man is a superior being. Everything put on Earth is for man's use." Retired Ohio State University poultry-science professor Glyde Marsh agreed: "If I had to be born a chicken, I'd rather be born a gamecock than a broiler that is going to be run through Colonel Sanders."

Charles W. Shinabarger, 31, got five days in jail in Webster City, Iowa, in July for sending a profane note smeared with excrement along with his payment for a traffic ticket for not wearing a seat belt. Judge G.D. Warland said it was his disgust at the profanity more than at the excrement that caused him to impose a jail term.

First Things First

Larry Wilgus, a preacher in Canton, Ohio, who was saved by a Chrysler airbag in a car accident, appeared in a popular TV commercial for the company last year out of gratitude but changed his opinion of the company in January (and threatened never to buy another Chrysler) when he realized it advertises in Playboy.

Last winter animal rights activists and health officials in Traverse City, Michigan, protested a program by local hunters to donate deer meat to the homeless in part because the meat would not be government-inspected. A local civic leader said, "The logic [of the protest] escapes me because [the homeless] are presently eating out of garbage cans and Dumpsters."

Fundamentalist minister Roger Leach of Madera, California, complained in March about a state program to teach self-esteem in elementary schools because it leaves children with the belief that they can solve problems themselves and thus "don't need God in their lives." As many as 15 parents have removed their kids from the schools for the same reason.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.

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