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News of the Weird

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Lead Story

In February Philadelphia's Department of Licenses and Inspections informed dancer Crystal Storm at Thee Doll House that she was violating regulations. The department's weights and measures division, whose primary job is checking the accuracy of meat-market scales, had ascertained that Storm's bust measurement is only 50 inches; her advertised measurement is "127," which Storm explained was in centimeters. Said department official Frank Antico, "That's deceptive advertising."

Tacky, Tacky

According to a report in the Arizona Republic, artist Fritz Scholder of Scottsdale, who said he "buys a book a day," divides his library into two parts: books that mention him and books that don't.

The Washington Times reported in February that since 1992 Washington, D.C., mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly has used public funds to retain Julie A. Rodgers-Edwards, a $65-an-hour makeup artist, to pretty up the mayor for all public appearances and photo and TV sessions. In March the Times reported that Rodgers-Edwards didn't have the $45 cosmetology license the city requires, having never taken the proper tests.

In January the U.S. Postal Service withdrew from circulation most of the 29-cent stamps honoring cowboy Bill Pickett that mistakenly pictured his brother Ben. To recover one outstanding stamp, which may be worth $1 million to collectors, the Postal Service offered the owner, Dan Piske of Bend, Oregon, 29 cents and a USPS coffee mug. Piske declined.

Courthouse officials in Durham, North Carolina, suspect that in February a disgruntled lawyer or lawyers stole a big stack of brochures that explained how battered women could obtain court orders against their husbands without resorting to a lawyer.

Multiculturalism

The Associated Press reported in August on the growing movement in Muslim countries to abandon the ancient tradition of permitting husbands to divorce their wives by shouting "Talaq!" three times. Pakistan, Turkey, Syria, and Indonesia are among the nations that have abandoned the tradition, but it continues in India. There a man may either shout "Talaq" three times at once, with the divorce effective four months later, or one time during each of three consecutive menstrual periods and be divorced immediately after the third shout.

In August near Denver two Tarahumara Indians from northern Mexico, one age 55, finished first and second in the Leadville 100, the highest-altitude 100-mile race in this country. The Indians were the only runners not wearing conventional running shoes; both wore homemade sandals made from used automobile tires.

In September the Economist reported that Japan's meteorology agency recently completed a seven-year study to ascertain the validity of the Japanese legend that earthquakes are caused by catfish wiggling their tails. After trying to match catfish tail wagging with a number of small earthquakes, the agency abandoned the study, refusing to confirm or criticize the legend.

Last year Tel Aviv University and the Warner-Lambert Company sponsored the First International Workshop on Bad Breath. Shlomo Goren, former chief rabbi of Israel, told the conference that Jewish law makes bad breath a legitimate ground for divorce. (One study by the Kyushu Dental College in Japan used human sniffers to categorize the smells in the mouths of 2,600 subjects.)

The Vancouver Sun reported in July that the local school board was aware of more than a dozen cases of Asian parents who emigrated to Canada with their children, then moved back home when they couldn't find work, leaving the kids, mostly 15- and 16-year-olds, behind so they could attend school for up to two years. Canadian law calls such cases "abandonment" only when the child is under ten.

A February Associated Press dispatch from Pakistan reported on a tradition dating from around 750 AD: chaining a mentally ill person to a tree near the graveyard of Saint Haji Sher so the saint will rescue his soul. The typical waiting time is nine days, though some people require longer stays; one man has been chained to a tree for six years.

The Weirdo-American Community

From November until late February Brenda Butler Bryant filed 335 lawsuits in federal court in Philadelphia, accounting for one-fifth of all new cases; each one, said Judge Jay Waldman, was "frivolous" and unintelligible. He quoted from one filed against the Social Security Administration: "Big Mac? Slave Master Now? No slave ain't master now. Ride them cowboy. Terrorist, radicals and militants in authoritative roles to provoke violent crimes Cecil B. Moore." Several recent filings have included as coplaintiffs the Pep Boys, whom Bryant describes as her sons.

Inexplicable

At a disciplinary conference in February Ronald E. Young Jr.--a sheriff's deputy in Kalida, Ohio, who was recently fired for conduct unbecoming an officer--denied forcing a woman to have sex while he was on duty. According to the Lima News, he told Sheriff Ronald Diemer that what really happened was that he was sitting with his wife eating french fries at Rascal's Pub at 12:30 AM, when the woman sat down next to him and began masturbating him under the table. He also said he eventually achieved climax, though his wife apparently didn't notice.

Undignified Death

In Commerce City, Colorado, in July a 39-year-old man riding a motorcycle on U.S. 85 was killed when a 40-pound dog fell off an overhead railroad bridge and landed on top of him, causing him to lose control of the cycle and collide with a truck.

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

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