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News of the Weird



Lead Story

In May the Howard Johnson Plaza-Suite Hotel in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, temporary home of state representative David Armstrong of New Orleans while the legislature is in session, banned him from the premises to protect its female employees from sexual harassment. Hotel manager Rick Smith said he had stopped allowing housekeeping employees to go to Armstrong's room alone because several of them said he had greeted them naked or wearing little clothing, made various sexual gestures, and invariably invited them to join him in sexual activities.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

Knight-Ridder News Service reported in December that Roger Dunavant's Straight Arrow firm, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, has increased sales of its horse-grooming products over the last three years from $500,000 a year to $12 million through sales to humans for grooming themselves. The hottest product is Mane 'n Tail Conditioner, but Hoofmaker also sells well as a hands and nails conditioner.

Rick Brown of Los Angeles has introduced a $69.95 audiocassette program called "Think and Grow Breasts," which instructs women in creative-visualization exercises designed to take their minds back to puberty and reengage the "mammary-building process."

New Celebrity Drug Marketing: Two men in Jerusalem were arrested in February for marketing LSD tablets wrapped in stickers featuring the Simpsons. In the same month New York City police reported that a potent form of heroin was appearing on the streets stamped with the name and photograph of Mike Tyson.

Items Available in Vending Machines: In Japan, where Americans have long complained of the closed retail distribution system for their products, U.S. and Australian beef importers have begun to sell cuts of meat in vending machines for about $12 a pound, significantly less than the $20 a pound charged for Japanese beef. And First Choice Industries in Toronto is currently test-marketing vending machines that dispense fishing worms, packed in cans of dirt, for about $3.

Among the inventions revealed in a February contest in Tokyo sponsored by Konica Corporation was a device meant to facilitate sleeping while standing on the subway--a camera tripod fitted with an adjustable U-shaped chin rest--and a shoe with a telescoping handle for killing hard-to-reach insects.

The New York Times reported in May that Thomas H. Noonan of Havertown, Pennsylvania, and two partners recently were granted a patent for a robotic lawn mower, Mobot, whose microprocessor stores a programmed cutting route and then responds to sensors planted in the lawn.


The San Francisco Chronicle reported in February that a six-year-long feud between two officials in the small Emery Unified School District, adjacent to Oakland, has produced numerous lawsuits, $123,000 in school attorneys' fees, and hundreds of hours of police investigation time, with the police so far finding no basis for the charges. School superintendent Peter Corona said former school board member Rita Dixon had tried to put out a contract on his life and tried to get a witch doctor to put a spell on him. Corona also said that Dixon's daughter had accused him of running a prostitution ring in the school.

In November a California court of appeals ruled on a technicality in favor of David Chey in his lawsuit against neighbor John Ben. The two had regularly accused each other of harassment consisting of loud music, threats, racial epithets, and profanities. Among the documents in the case is a police report describing Chey's use of an electric fan to blow hazardous materials onto's Ben's property.

In a recent issue of the trade journal Circus Report was a notice placed by a clown, threatening legal action if a competitor didn't stop using the clown's performing name, "Underwearhead the Clown."

The Associated Press reported in February that shortly after a train near Dhaka, Bangladesh, knocked down a baby elephant, the baby's mother blocked the next train that came along. After stopping it, she beat her head against the engine for 15 minutes, disabling the train and leaving 200 passengers stranded for five hours.

The Weirdo-Canadian Community

Donald Kuntz, 25, was convicted of assault in Toronto in March after participating in slicing open the arm of a 21-year-old woman he had just met in a bar. According to testimony at the trial, the woman had agreed in principle to let him drink her blood, but it was Kuntz who opened the wound, causing pain and forcing her to head for the hospital. According to witnesses, Kuntz then dropped to the floor and licked up the spilled blood before fleeing.

Least Competent Person

Brian C. Jones, 20, was arrested in Norfolk, Virginia, in May and charged with breaking into his neighbor's house, stealing a television, camera, and VCR, and then setting the house on fire to wipe out any evidence linking him to the theft. However, Jones and his neighbor live in a duplex, so Jones's place suffered heavy smoke damage, opening up the house to fire fighters, who spotted the neighbor's equipment inside.

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

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