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News of the Weird

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Lead Stories

The hottest-selling item this spring for turkey hunters has been a male decoy that fits on top of a traditional female decoy to give the illusion that a stranger is mating with one of the turkey's harem. According to a hunting store manager quoted in the Cedar Rapids Gazette, the appeal to territorial jealousy is especially effective with older turkeys too smart to fall for simple mating-call lures.

In April doctors at Saint Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C., said Tomar Cooper Locker, 25, was no longer mentally ill and should be unconditionally released. Just two months earlier, Locker had been found not guilty by reason of insanity (post-traumatic stress) in the murder of boxer Reuben Bell, whom Locker had fatally shot because he thought Bell had killed Locker's girlfriend, and was sentenced to only 20 to 60 months for unlawful gun possession. However, since Locker was jailed for 26 months before the trial, at press time a judge was considering whether to release him immediately.

Potential Caretakers of Democracy

Among this year's political candidates: For governor of West Virginia, Joseph Oliverio, who admitted in February that he's had 60 speeding tickets and been arrested 150 times. For property assessor of Anderson County, Tennessee, Bobby E. Jones, who served time for 37 counts of making false statements to the federal government. For a seat in the Missouri general assembly, Richard Tolbert, who recently filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy for the seventh time in three years. For the city council of Scottsdale, Arizona, Gary Tredway, who was on the lam for 30 years after a conviction for throwing a firecracker at firefighters during a student antiwar demonstration.

Frontiers of Science

Dutch researchers, writing in a December issue of British Medical Journal on their findings from observing couples engaged in sexual intercourse inside MRI machines, noted that during missionary-position sex the penis is not straight but actually takes the shape of a boomerang.

Recent language/brain scramblings: Wendy Hasnip, 47, told BBC Television in December that a minor stroke had given her the rare "foreign accent syndrome"--in her case, a French accent, though she doesn't know any French. Also in December, the Moscow Times featured Willi Melnikov, 37, who suffered a brain injury during the Soviet-Afghanistan war that activated a facility for languages. He has since become fluent in dozens and conversant in 93.

Researchers from Boston University and Cornell, writing in a December journal article, said they have identified the behavior that the male bat uses to attract mates. At about the same time every afternoon for a half hour, male bats transfer urine to sacs in their wings by alternately licking the penis and the sac. Later, the bat hovers in front of females and flutters his wings to spread what one researcher called the "very sweet and spicy" scent.

China's Xinhua News Agency reported in March that a 13-pound cyst removed from a 28-year-old farmer in the northern province of Shaanxi actually contained the ossified fetus of his identical twin brother. Physicians said the fetus had grown for a while after the farmer's birth and it had hair and teeth.

Great Art!

In March, Christie's auction house of New York City unloaded 60 paintings created by elephants, including Sao (a former log-hauler in Thailand's timber industry), whose work was likened by Yale art historian Mia Fineman to the work of Paul Gauguin for its "broad, gentle, curvy brush strokes" and "depth and maturity." Fineman said she is writing a book on the three distinct regional styles of Thai elephant art.

Tom Deininger's one-person show opened at Rhode Island's Newport Art Museum in January, consisting of his sculptures made of trash, including packaging, toys, clothes, and computer parts. Deininger says fans feed him tips on particularly cool Dumpsters to raid and told the Providence Journal that he was working on a self-portrait made of cardboard boxes, with cheeks made of wads of Pokemon wrappers, teeth of Styrofoam, and a toy soldier forming a nostril.

According to an April San Francisco Chronicle feature, a painting by local artist Catherine Anderson had been accepted for hanging, then rejected, by the lodge at Sonoma resort set to open later this year. Anderson specializes in paintings of cows, but the lodge declined the piece because too many cow posteriors were depicted, then declined a substitute because one cow was in what a lodge representative allegedly said was a "provocative position."

In Their Own Words

Magazine publisher Kathy Masera of Madera, California, to a journalist investigating reports in May that the ventilation system of Masera's office building was hosting several types of noxious molds, causing 26 of her 30 employees to become ill: "There isn't anything more frightening than sitting in a meeting and three people suddenly have blood running from their noses."

Update

A year ago News of the Weird reported that Reading University professor Kevin Warwick was having a transponder implanted in his forearm to allow his whereabouts to be monitored by remote. Warwick's next implant, according to an April Cox News Service report, will equip him with the same sonar system that bats and porpoises use for navigation by sending signals to a microchip, which will be "tapped into" a nerve bundle that runs from Warwick's arm to his brain. Warwick believes he will be able to train himself to detect what's in front of him while his eyes are closed.

Least Competent Criminals

Edward Hall, 50, was arrested in March and charged with thefts of trailers from a Home Depot in Albuquerque. According to police, Hall took a trailer from the store's lot early in the morning, hitched it to his truck, and drove it a few miles until it came loose and crashed. He returned to the store, hitched up another, and drove it on the same route, but it also came loose and crashed at the site of the first crash. He returned, hitched up a third trailer, and again drove it on the same route. A police officer had stopped at the previous crash site to investigate, and as Hall drove by, he accidentally bumped the squad car. The officer chased Hall down, after which he discovered the thefts.

In the Last Month

In Bordeaux, France, a court rejected a lawsuit by a brother and sister, both schoolteachers, to store their mother's corpse permanently at home, in a glass-topped freezer. A 52-year-old nightclub stripper in Brantford, Ontario, filed an age-discrimination complaint over her recent firing. Japanese toy maker Bandai Corporation, to help increase the market for its products, announced it would pay employees to have children, at $10,000 per child after their second. A theatergoer in Melbourne, Australia, filed a lawsuit against the comic actor Barry Humphries, who performs as Dame Edna, after one of the gladioli he threw to the audience at the end of his show poked the theatergoer in the eye. A NATO elite training force of 116 Italian infantrymen landed at Kristianstad, Sweden (not a NATO country), instead of the assigned Kristiansand, Norway.

Send your weird news to Chuck Shepherd, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611 or to weird@compuserve.com.

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

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