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News of the Weird

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Lead Story

A July article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer described celebrated local artist Matthew Geraci, 35, whose show of "colorful, abstract" fish had opened in a gallery in South Bend, Washington. Geraci suffered "severe brain damage" in a 1989 automobile accident, from which he has largely recovered except for two conditions: He sometimes stares aimlessly at things for hours at a time, and he now possesses an artistic sense, after a lifelong passion for nonartistic endeavors such as math. Geraci recalled his first flash of artistic insight during a 1992 therapy class: "I had eight colored pencils, and I just started to draw . . . what I saw in my mind." A University of Washington neuropsychiatrist said there's "nothing in the literature" to explain Geraci's condition.

Election Recap

Robert Garner won the Republican nomination for Hawaii's congressional seat in September but then dropped out of sight, missed the entire campaign, and lost the election in November to incumbent Patsy Mink. The party hired private detectives to track him down but discovered that his address and phone number were invalid and that he had no credit history. One person who signed his original nominating petition said he thinks Garner is well and may be living on a boat.

After a state legislative candidates' forum in Wentworth, North Carolina, in October, the wife of the Republican challenger tore into the incumbent, Representative Bertha "B" Holt, after accusing Holt of "smiling and making fun of my husband" during his speech. The wife, Cathy Miller, said, "I'd like to pull every white hair out of that [deleted in original story] head." Her husband said, "I think my wife is like any other female in a similar situation. She was defending her own."

After six losing campaigns for parliament in Denmark, stand-up comedian Jacob Haugaard was elected in September. Among his campaign promises this time were good weather, better Christmas presents, guaranteed tail winds for all cyclists, and standard-size dust bags in vacuum cleaners.

Seeds of Our Destruction

Two petitions were recently filed with government agencies urging that both black Americans and Old Order Amish and Mennonites be given protection under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Milwaukee activists Bob Thompson and David Young, who filed the first petition, told the Milwaukee Sentinel in September that since young black males are about 15 times more likely to be murdered than whites some pristine wilderness should be established for their preservation. The U.S. Department of the Interior once rejected a similar petition for the Samish Indian tribe on the ground that its members weren't "wild."

In November, in what is believed to be the first relocation of its kind, the contents of a Paris sperm bank were transported by truck about two and a half miles to new facilities. The logistics were reminiscent of what's required when transporting nuclear materials: 300,000 sperm samples, frozen in liquid nitrogen, and several hundred embryos were insulated against spills and vibrations, and a motorcycle guard was along to make sure that the truck, which made four trips, could pass through traffic signals without stopping.

In August Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia proposed extending the country's caning policy to include women for the first time. If the policy becomes law women could be punished for such crimes as illegal immigration with the same nonscarring lashes problem schoolboys receive.

A former municipal morgue attendant in Brisbane, Australia, told reporters in July that the morgue routinely made available to researchers organs from corpses without permission from the families of the deceased. He said the morgue had sold pituitary glands collected during the late 1980s for about 50 cents each, which funded a staff Christmas party last year.

In September in Brownsville, Texas, Laura Lugo, 27, accused two women of luring her to a Mexican clinic in 1992, when she was eight and a half months pregnant, drugging her, arranging for a C-section, and stealing her baby. Paulyna and Rosa Botello, Mexican nationals who were living legally in the U.S., denied the charges and told investigators at various times that each of them was the mother of the child, who is now in a foster home. As part of her lawsuit to gain custody of the child, Lugo submitted to DNA testing, which established that the likelihood that she's the mother is 99 percent.

Operating like noted police public-relations mascots Officer Friendly and Officer McGruff, a costumed Barry J. Bullet visited kindergartens and day-care centers in suburban Chicago earlier this year to tell kids, among other things, to hit the floor immediately if they hear gunfire.

According to the National Catholic Reporter, a machine is now available that can gather sperm for medical purposes while sidestepping the church's two objections to masturbation (direct stimulation of the penis and presence of erotic thoughts). After researchers at the University of the Sacred Heart in Rome did experiments with the machine, which attaches to and vibrates the testicles, they approved further testing and eventual commercial use of the device.

Creme de la Weird

According to a USA Today note from the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, an Israeli woman filed for divorce in October because her husband had become so infatuated with Hillary Rodham Clinton that he ordered his wife to color and style her hair to look like Clinton's. During Clinton's October visit to Jerusalem the man waited in front of her hotel for hours just to see her.

I Don't Think So

Doctors in Pittsburgh say Sherri Lynn Rossi was hit in the head more than 20 times with a blunt object in June and left covered in blood and in a coma on the side of a road. When she came out of the coma, she identified her attacker as her husband, Richard A. Rossi Jr., pastor of the local independent, charismatic First Love Church. She told police that Rossi had gotten out of his car, "started acting weird," taken the wheel of her car, driven her to a rural area, and beaten her. Rossi immediately denied the charge, insisting that the hijacker must have been a man who looked like him and had a car like his. He also said it was "very possible, oh, yes" that his wife's attacker was Satan in human form. In October Sherri Lynn Rossi abruptly withdrew her accusation, said she was looking forward to resuming their family life, and concurred that her attacker might have been a demon in human form.

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

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