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News of the Weird


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Lead Story

Charges were filed against Mineola, New York, plumber Joseph Conretta, 31, in February for an idea he executed in a women's rest room at Nassau Community College. Conretta had prepared a low-rise wooden box and placed it on the floor so that women using the sinks and mirrors would have to stand on it. Unknown to them, Conretta was lying inside the box, peering up their skirts through a peephole.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

The Nippon Crown Company recently introduced a compact disc of specially composed "cheerful but serene [new-age] music" for dogs and cats stressed out by their hardworking Japanese owners. The selections, tested for effectiveness on more than 100 pets, are slow and calm for dogs, bouncier and more rhythmic for cats, and contain such sounds as buzzing flies. The CD sells for $17.

The London manufacturer Bodywise recently began selling a product called Aeolus 7 to bill-collection agencies for about $6,000 a gram. Its main ingredient is a pheromone secreted from men's armpits and groins that appears to be effective in getting debtors to pay up. In a study in Australia, invoices that had been treated with Aeolus 7 had a 17 percent higher return than untreated bills.

According to a recent Boston Globe article, ubiquitous Japanese vending machines routinely dispense, among other things, roses, pearls, underwear, hamburgers, beer, pornographic comics, condoms, servings of rice, dried squid snacks, noodle soup, and binoculars.

The Kanebo Company in Japan reported last summer that, to serve the market of female office workers alarmed by the high incidence of cockroaches and other bugs in carpeting and moist nooks of air-conditioned buildings, it had sold over 400,000 pairs of insecticide-treated pantyhose.

The Resolution Trust Corporation filed a $140 million lawsuit in December against 12 directors of an Arizona savings and loan association--including the present Arizona governor, Fife Symington--claiming that they subjected depositors to undue risk by investing in a development project in downtown Phoenix. RTC also says Symington earned almost $8 million on that project from an investment of $432.

On February 17, Robert C. Walker was arrested in Nashville 30 minutes after he had allegedly robbed the Security Federal Savings and Loan. The site of his arrest was the Metropolitan Federal Savings and Loan, where he had just used some of the stolen cash to pay down a loan.

The Associated Press reported in February that landscaper Jay Knudsen of Des Moines, Iowa, runs a side business in which relatives of deceased hunters, as a way of honoring their dead kin, pay him to load the deceased's ashes into shotgun shells and fire at targets. Knudsen said he also gets requests to put ashes in duck decoys, fishermen's lures, and golf clubs. Said Knudsen, "There's a lot of ideas that go to waste because people are afraid to be laughed at."

Science Fair

Retired engineer Paul Hogan submitted a proposal to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in January that would prevent beach erosion on Dauphin Island near Mobile, Alabama. He suggested encouraging women to send in pairs of pantyhose and installing "thousands" of them 350 feet from the beach to catch sand and form a dune.

Officials of the Shriners Burn Institute at the University of Cincinnati disclosed in March that one of its surgeons, Dr. Glenn D. Warden, once carved his initials and a ticktacktoe diagram into the skull of a dying infant. The institute said it would conduct a formal investigation. Warden was also accused of drawing "happy faces" onto patients' genitalia with a marking pen. Warden, who was scheduled to become president of a national surgeons' association this year, said that in each case he had only been trying to lighten the atmosphere of the operating room.

China's official news agency reported in March that Yang Siqi, the director of the Yingtan Termite Research Institute, has advised people to start making termites part of their diet. Yang believes that termites may have medicinal value because they never get ill and has set up three companies to manufacture termite-based medicines.

Least Competent Person

Ricarles Wright, 34, was arrested in Waterloo, Iowa, in February when he attempted to return two hams to a grocery store for a cash refund--about an hour after he had stolen them from the same store at gunpoint.

Creme de la Weird

Joan Abery, 70, was found dead in Reading, England, in March after living in the garden outside her house for the last 35 years. She moved there, among twigs, umbrellas, and car seats, after being spurned at the altar--so that she could leave her house as it was at the time she was jilted.

The Diminishing Value of Life

Landscaping contractor Duane Brandon was charged in Livingston, Montana, in January with offering to pay a hit man to kill his estranged wife. The price, according to police, was $10,000 "or an equivalent amount of dirt work" that he would perform.

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

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