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In a May speech, English professor Constance Penley of the University of Rochester mentioned a fan club of women who write and exchange erotic scripts for Star Trek, principally emphasizing relationships between Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock. Among the club's themes is the women's fascination with the "equality" in male-male relationships compared to the dominance and submission in traditional romance novels. Penley showed an audience a homemade video in which Kirk looked "longingly" at Spock while a romantic song was dubbed over the dialogue.

Latest Messages Received

The Power Team, a group of muscle-bound evangelists who tour the country for Christ giving demonstrations of karate, breaking cement blocks with their fists, and bending steel in their mouths while raucous Christian heavy metal music blares in the background, say their message is, "With God, all things are possible."

In March motorists in Stone Mountain, Georgia, reported seeing the image of Christ in a forkful of spaghetti on a Pizza Hut billboard. One woman said the image caused her to abandon plans to quit her church choir.

John E. Thomas, 30, was arrested in Council Bluffs, Iowa, in May after he was found running naked over a bridge on Interstate 480. He told police that bolts of lightning in a recent storm had instructed him to undress.

In March, several days after a gospel concert he'd organized, Little Rock minister James Clayborn reported $5,000 "missing" from receipts. When police asked why he had not noticed the shortage sooner, Clayborn said, "I got touched by the hands of God in a way that I could not hold [the money]. I don't know all that happened, but I think I screamed about three or four times."

Imelda Marcos announced in July that the series of natural disasters that have befallen the Philippines recently are God's way of telling President Aquino to permit the body of Ferdinand Marcos to be returned home for burial.

People Unclear on the Concept

Among recent proposals by Los Angeles police chief Daryl Gates to abate criticism of his department's excessive force in making arrests was a training program, complete with videos, to help citizens improve their behavior while being arrested.

Helen D. Woodson, serving 18 years in federal prison for breaking into a nuclear-weapons site in 1985, won the right in August from federal judge Charles Richey not to be let out early for good behavior. She refused to say why she wanted to waive her "good time," explaining only that her reasons were "religious."

In July Turkish farmer Mustafa Kaya was hospitalized after drinking a large quantity of insecticide, which he'd done because he had accidentally swallowed a fly. "I wanted to kill the fly before it reproduced inside me," he said. "I heard [they] reproduce fast."

Nancy Berzins, 37, was arrested in Bethesda, Maryland, in June for leaving her two-year-old son alone for 30 minutes in a closed van, the inside temperature of which reached 120 degrees, in the parking lot of a police station. She was inside being fingerprinted as part of the application procedure to open a day-care center.

In May a Catholic priest in Knoxville, Tennessee, formally blessed the Guncraft Sports indoor shooting range, dedicating it to Saint Gabriel Possenti, a fabled sharpshooter. Bishop Anthony J. O'Connell said later he wouldn't have extended the blessing if he had known the business was a gun range.

Andy E.Schmid, 34, arrested in Fort Lauderdale in March for violating the city ordinance against rummaging through garbage, pulled a small gun he had hidden from police and, despite being handcuffed, fired a shot into his jaw in a suicide attempt.

In March in New York City, Aundray Burns, 26, making a getaway from what police speculated was a crime scene, leapt into the nearest open car and tried to get control of the steering wheel from the driver, yelling, "I gotta go! I gotta go!" The car was a well-marked New York Transit Authority police car, and the driver, officer Daniel Daly, was in uniform.

Houston city health officials issued a citation to Mike and Carmen Arrieta of the Grace Street Ministry in March. The Arrietas serve food cooked in the homes of volunteers to 600 homeless people each Sunday. This violated city regulations that food be prepared in restaurants or churches and that it be served under sneeze guards.

At an August hearing in Austin, members of the Texas Board of Mental Health and Mental Retardation abruptly cut off witness Victor Ramirez when his allotted three minutes expired. He had prepared a speech on the need for more community services but could not finish it in time because his cerebral palsy causes him to speak very slowly.

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

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