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News of the Weird

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Lead Story

Meeting with investigators after his USAir flight crashed on takeoff in New York City in September, pilot Michael Martin covered his head with a towel, leaving only a tiny slit to see through, and refused to remove it, forcing investigators to take his fingerprints to confirm his identity. He refused to say why he would not take the towel off.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

International Infopet Systems Inc. is marketing a $40 procedure in which a computer chip the size of a grain of rice is sewn into the back of a pet to allow a scanner to identify it if it gets lost.

A company whose name translates as "Transport Service for Troubled People" in Osaka, Japan, specializes in after-dark moves for wives who want to leave their husbands without alerting the neighbors and before their husbands come home from late-night dinners.

At Dial-a-Mattress in New York City, a customer who orders by phone by 10 PM will have his mattress delivered by midnight.

The San Francisco Gift Company in Canada sells a sponge bat called the "Wife Wacker" for $2.99.

Darby Lippincott, a 21-year-old veterinary student, sells Road Kill Cards--theme greeting cards with photos of road-kill animals she has found and dressed up in such costumes as party hats and Easter bonnets.

Procter & Gamble has become the "official sponsor" of the rest rooms at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in California.

A joint venture between an Austrian firm and a Hungarian trade association will market (for $38) nine-inch "roses" made of the barbed wire originally used to form the Iron Curtain between the two countries, which was erected in 1950 and torn down earlier this year.

Auto manufacturers in China will soon begin outfitting cars with electrically vibrating seats that keep drivers alert. Such vibration, akin to acupuncture, regulates "vital energy" and can reduce accidents by more than 10 percent.

Fetishes on Parade

David Cohen, 29, was arrested in August for luring two 12-year-old boys into his meat-and-fish delivery truck in Rockland, New York, and spanking them. He had telephoned the boys repeatedly, telling them what a prosecutor described as "bizarre baby-sitting stories involving diapered children." Cohen first attracted attention in 1982 when, clad only in a large diaper, he appeared at a school-bus stop and asked waiting kids, "Where's the party?"

Police in Tempe, Arizona, as a result of baiting a stakeout with women's underwear, say they have ended the 11-year crime spree of the area's famous "panty bandit," whom they identified as David Keith Fesko, 42. In August, police found in Fesko's room seven suitcases and numerous boxes and trunks filled with women's underwear, each item carefully marked with the owner's name and address and the date taken.

Amsterdam police opened an investigation earlier this year after a Dutch TV station videotaped five two-year-old human heads reporters had bought from a member of an organization that supposedly sells them, at prices of $375 to $625, to medical students and sex perverts (who use them for "games").

Their 15 Minutes

Karen Ulane, 48, decorated Vietnam combat pilot (as Kenneth Ulane) and plaintiff in a celebrated sex-discrimination case against Eastern Airlines, which fired her after her sex-change operation, died in a plane crash in May near De Kalb, Illinois.

Richard Gary Griffing of Mesa, Arizona, who in 1988 filed a claim of ownership of Mars in the Maricopa County recorder's office, said in August he had told President Bush he would allow U.S. spacecraft to land on Mars without charge. Among the laws on Griffing's planet are bans against telephone solicitations and mobile homes.

Cameroon singer Obama Essoma Juliot de Feu, or "Mongo Faya," the king of women, has been sued for divorce by 15 of his 45 legal wives, who say they'll drop the lawsuit if he buys them a car. He declined, saying he was saving to buy himself a minibus.

Former Ku Klux Klan wizard James Venable, 87, fighting an attempt by the Georgia Bar Association to remove his license to practice law because of senility, said, "My mind is as clear as it was 50 years ago."

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

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