News of the Weird | News of the Weird | Chicago Reader

News & Politics » News of the Weird

News of the Weird


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


Lead Stories

Last month surgeons at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, spent six hours removing a dead worm from a woman's brain. The woman, who said she'd been suffering from periodic seizures since eating a pork taco in Mexico three years ago, was only mildly sedated and remained conscious throughout the operation, verbally guiding the surgeons from point to point in her brain.

In February alleged drug trafficker Pablo Alberto Manjarres-Riend told a federal court in Providence, Rhode Island, that federal statutes do not apply to him because the federal government "converted" its flesh-and-blood citizens into paper assets in the 1930s to escape bankruptcy. Though this event has been missed completely by historians, Manjarres-Riend is the fifth person recently to come before the court citing the "redemption theory," which also holds that people should be able to apply their paper worth against financial obligations such as mortgage payments. According to an April story in the Providence Journal, prosecutors are amazed at how earnestly defendants believe in the theory, as if it will soon be widely accepted by the public.

Last month the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that a high school athlete could sue his guidance counselor for recommending a course that would supposedly make him more eligible as a college athlete but in fact did not....And earlier this month a former high school student in Levittown, Pennsylvania, sued her softball coach for impeding her career by teaching her a pitching motion that she later learned umpires would rule illegal.

Some People Never Learn

In the last three months middle school teachers in Findlay, Ohio, and high school teachers in the California towns of Menifree, Riverside, and National City have been suspended or investigated after threatening to shoot students who misbehaved....An English teacher at Homedale High School in Idaho resigned in March after telling his students that if they didn't behave for a substitute teacher, he would "make Columbine look like a Sunday picnic."...And in February the school board president in Upper Moreland Township, Pennsylvania, said that anyone who supported the current teacher rating system should be "dragged out to the parking lot and shot."

Unclear on the Concept

South Florida is enduring a two-year drought (the most severe on record), with no end in sight, yet in March a home owners' association in Boynton Beach summoned six of its members to a disciplinary meeting for failing to keep their lawns green. According to the association president, the other 77 home owners in the association maintain their lawns adequately but swear that they obey the town's watering restrictions.

About 200 women turned out on the runway in January to compete for the Miss Acne-free beauty pageant in Bangkok, but the 40 finalists chosen from the group were not the most attractive but the most severely pimpled and pockmarked. The pageant winner, to be selected later this year, will be the finalist who clears up the most after treatment. Said one eager contestant, "It is not often that I can step into the limelight because of my acne."

In Their Own Words

In January, 40-year-old environmentalist Briony Penn rode nude on a horse through downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, to protest logging on Saltspring Island. Addressing reporters afterward, she said, "I've got a PhD, and no one listens. I take my clothes off, and here you all are. So thank you."

In November 2000, Ms. "Oy BM," the most prominent madam in Thailand, told an International Sex Workers' seminar in Bangkok that the government's safe-sex guidelines are overprotective: "I don't think condoms are necessary, because if you receive many customers a day, all the sperm fights each other and dies."

In December the Riverfront Times of Saint Louis profiled Matt Hely, a performer with the Bobby Reynolds Circus Sideshow who makes a living by closing an animal trap on his hand and walking on shards of burning glass. Hely told the paper, "When you find yourself eating lightbulbs for a living, you know you've made some bad career moves."

In February Reuters News Service interviewed retired porn actress Sharon Mitchell, who now runs a medical clinic near Los Angeles for adult-film performers. Reminiscing about her debut, Mitchell said, "I remember seeing my genitalia 16 feet high on the silver screen and thinking, 'Wow, this is great!'"

In March a federal judge in San Francisco rejected the California prison system's attempt to prohibit public attendance of executions. The state had argued that secrecy was necessary to protect the execution team, and when open-execution advocates suggested that the team wear hoods, the state attorney general said that doing so would "disrupt the human bond...that the team has tried to establish with the inmate."

Least Competent People

Last month in Vancouver, Washington, John K. Flora defended himself against charges that he had spent years stalking a woman he briefly dated 25 years ago. When the woman took the witness stand, Flora asked her a series of questions to establish that she really did love him, but the longer he questioned her, the more hostile and horrified she became. Finally Flora whipped out a $5,000 engagement ring and thrust it at her, imploring, "Marry me! You mean everything to me! Please!" The judge ordered that he be chained to his chair, and Flora later promised the judge that the proposal was his "last hurrah."

In the Last Month

In Atlanta a convicted felon who'd been released from prison twice a week on work detail was charged with a bank robbery and questioned in four others, all of them committed during his forays....In Antioch, California, a traffic cop ticketed 15 cyclists who had ridden through a stop sign, despite the fact that they were among 2,000 people participating in a multiple sclerosis bike-a-thon....In Florida a lobbyist for the nursing home industry barged into the office of state representative Nancy Argenziano to watch TV coverage of the legislature passing a watered-down nursing home bill, which so angered her that she sent the lobbyist a gift-wrapped 25-pound box of cow manure.

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

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

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Give $35/month →  
  Give $10/month →  
  Give  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Add a comment