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News of the Weird


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In February the Royal Bank of Scotland announced that it would begin issuing extra check-cashing ID cards to transvestite customers who request them. A bank spokesman said this would allow the customers to have separate cards depicting themselves dressed as male and female to "avoid embarrassment or difficulties."


Shortly after 10 AM on Christmas morning about 15 customers were lined up in the checkout lanes at a Safeway in Oxon Hill, Maryland. But no cashiers were on duty, and no one answered calls to the back of the store. Someone called the local police, who discovered that the store was supposed to be closed, but that the Christmas Eve crew had accidentally left the lights on and the doors unlocked.

In the Lorestan province of Iran, where celebratory gunfire is traditional at weddings, a wedding guest named Rasool lost control of his automatic weapon, killing 6 people and wounding 14. In Champion, Ohio, in January Reverend Thomas Gillum, who was presiding at the burial of a Korean war veteran, was accidentally shot in the face when the local VFW honor guard fired a four-gun salute.

The international food company Nestle UK was fined about $20,000 in January because of injuries suffered by employee Alex Tuvey-Smith, 36, at a plant in York, England. Tuvey-Smith had been cleaning excess chocolate from the sides of a giant mixing bowl when he slipped and fell in, starting the mixing paddles, which whipped him for more than a minute before they were shut off.

Car salesman Joseph LaRaviere, 29, was attempting to help a couple who'd run out of gas near Ruskin, Florida, in October and got his right index finger stuck in the pipe that leads to the gas tank. He was stuck for about two hours before fire fighters arrived and rescued him.


Roy Kinne, 28, an unemployed Chicago-area man who rescued an eight-year-old boy who fell through the ice in a lake adjacent to Kinne's house one afternoon last December: "If I would have had a life, I might not have been [home]."

Milwaukee juvenile court judge Mike Malmstadt, quoted in a Time magazine story on how hostility by drivers increasingly provokes violent reactions by others: "I don't give people the finger from my car, and I haven't for a while."

Professional soccer team manager Dan O'Riordan, defending his decision to levy fines against players for flatulence in the locker room: "It can get fairly oppressive when you've got 20 players in a tiny dressing room all suffering the effects of a Sunday night curry."

Tennessee state representative Frank Buck, commenting in January on a report on the death penalty that fixed the cost of an execution by lethal injection at $46,000 and by firing squad at $7,000: "With figures like these, should we wonder why people don't trust government? I believe I can figure out a way to shoot somebody for less that $7,000."

Attorney Daryl Blue announced in December that he would appeal the conviction of his client Freddie Armstrong for stabbing an 81-year-old preacher to death and cutting off his head before stunned onlookers, including police officers, at a Bastrop, Louisiana, funeral home. Blue claims that Armstrong was obviously insane at the time: "A rational man does not decapitate a man's head in the presence of a police officer."

The Swedish hockey team's coach Curt Lundmark on why he didn't protest more vigorously a disallowed goal in a game between his team and Canada's in February at the Olympics: "Sweden's influence in international hockey is like a duck fart in Africa."

Creme de la Weird

The London Independent reported in January on the Monday Club, a group of older men who meet Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays at the local Porchester Baths to be "schmeissed"--whipped while naked in a steam room by men wielding a ritual yellow wig, then immersed in ice-cold water. "Your body is like a car," said one man, "and a schmeiss is like being serviced." The ritual has been practiced for more than 60 years, and advocates claim its benefits include deep relaxation and a longer life span.

Least Competent Police

Algona, Iowa, judge Joseph Straub, who had his car stolen while visiting Omaha, Nebraska, in February, walked into the lobby of a local police station around 10 PM to file a report rather than wait for officers to come to the scene. According to the judge, he pushed the buzzer on the locked front door several times and saw officers moving around inside, but no one answered. Using the pay phone in the lobby, he called the station to ask that an officer open the door and take his report. Ten minutes passed before an officer opened the door. The officer went back inside, and ten more minutes passed before another officer appeared. That officer left, and nothing happened for ten more minutes. Exasperated, the judge, still in the lobby, called 911. A few minutes later a sergeant came out and went back in. A few minutes after that an officer drove up, got out of her squad car, and took Straub's report.

Least Dignified Death

In October a police officer in Rock Island, Illinois, who was showing his partner how a fellow officer had accidentally shot and killed himself during a training exercise three days earlier, accidentally shot himself to death.

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

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