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News of the Weird

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Kemal Ozkan, the leading circumciser in Istanbul (with a lifetime total of 106,000 procedures), predicted last month that the economic downturn in Turkey will halve his annual workload, from 3,000 to 1,500 circumcisions. According to the Associated Press, lack of government funding will force impoverished boys to wait until their military service to be circumcised. Business is off at the famous Circumcision Palace, where well-off parents have their sons snipped upstairs and then fete them at elaborate parties downstairs. As part of the traditional Turkish coming-of-age ceremony, boys parade through the streets wearing white suits with capes and holding gold-trimmed scepters.

In July, Justice Bodey of Britain's High Court ordered four men to submit DNA samples so that the court can identify the biological father of a seven-year-old boy. The boy's legal father, who is infertile, permitted his wife to have sex with other partners, and from April 28 to May 1, 1993, at the height of her fertility cycle, she copulated with a different man every night. Now one of the men has petitioned the court for the right to have regular contact with the child.

According to an August story from the Associated Press, Mormon communities in Utah are providing a market for bowdlerized videos of Hollywood movies. At CleanFlicks, a trio of video outlets near Provo, Ray Lines rents tapes of major-studio releases from which the sex, cursing, nudity, and extreme violence have been deleted, and in Kaysville, David Schenk's Clean Cut Video club has 62 edited tapes for members to check out. Said Schenk, "Great movies are great because they have a great story line, not because they drop the F-bomb."

Latest Cutting-Edge Research

In March a researcher at the University of Central Florida found that men tended to be more impressed with the professionalism of female speakers when the women wore C-cup brassieres....In April the head of a research team at Adelaide University in Australia reported that whiplash pain is often prolonged more by "litigation" than by "damage to [a particular] joint."...And that same month a professor at the University of Cambridge announced that lab experiments involving "kinetic energy, centrifugal force, and coefficient of friction" had revealed the cleanest way to eat spaghetti: hold a spoon parallel to the plate, use a fork perpendicular to the plate to roll the spaghetti onto the spoon, and then eat the pasta off the spoon.

Oregon, the Irony State

Oregon legislators announced in June that a windmill construction project on the Washington-Oregon border, expected to power 70,000 homes and delight clean-energy environmentalists, would probably be delayed because the property designated for construction is home to the endangered Washington ground squirrel.

9A federal lawsuit filed in July charges that a low-income housing complex in Seaside, Oregon, went too far in enforcing its zero-tolerance policy against violent acts. The complex reserves the right to terminate a lease if someone in the unit assaults another person in the complex; after Tiffani Ann Alvera was beaten by her husband, took out a restraining order on him, and showed it to the landlord, she lost her lease and was scheduled for eviction.

Latest Religious Messages

A June story in the London Daily Telegraph reported on Father Manuel Torres of Marbella, Spain, who has designed a new form for use in the 60 Catholic parishes of the Malaga tourist region. During the holiday season the region's population rises from 15,000 to 300,000, but few visitors are able to express themselves in Spanish. The form remedies this by listing 19 sins and three penances; after a worshiper fills in his sins, the confessor holds up either one finger (three Hail Marys), two fingers (one Our Father), or three fingers (an act of charity).

9In May a quarry owner in Karnataka, India, donated a 100-ton boulder to a Hindu temple in Tamil Nadu, which planned to have it sculpted into an idol of the Hindu monkey-god, Hanuman. The boulder was placed on a 96-wheel trailer but slipped off in transit, and as word spread, villagers gathered around the rock, consecrated it, and delivered offerings to it. The temple insisted that the rock be reloaded and delivered.

People Different From Us

Irwin Rose, said to be in his 50s, was found dead in his upscale New York City apartment in July, apparently of natural causes. The doorman for the building said Rose had not been outside in 13 years; a restaurant on the next block had been delivering the same meal to his door three times a day for eight years (rice pudding, chicken soup, two eggs over easy, sausages, and cheesecake). A friend of the deceased said he worked as a movie and fashion deal maker until a debilitating leg illness slowed him down.

Least Competent Criminals

In March police in Sparks, Nevada, arrested Donald James Eversen and charged him with attempting to rob two women and then stealing a beer truck for his getaway. Eversen, who'd been drinking, turned up a few blocks from the scene of the crime, and when police asked the two women to identify him, Eversen identified them as the two women he'd tried to rob....And in July, Mexican authorities arrested Humberto "the Frog" Banuelos, allegedly a hit man for the Tijuana drug cartel. Banuelos had undergone extensive cosmetic surgery to disguise himself but was identified by a distinctive bullet-wound scar on his right buttock.

Recurring Themes

Earlier this year News of the Weird reported on Woodside, California (population 5,600), a wealthy town in Silicon Valley that hoped to satisfy a state mandate for "affordable housing" by permitting horse farmers to convert their barns into apartments. In May state representative John H. Rogers proposed that towns in his native Massachusetts be allowed to include jails and prisons when totaling up their low-income housing.

In the Last Month

Boston Harbor's tenth annual swim to commemorate clean-water progress was canceled due to heavy pollution....A 26-year-old man was rescued from the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, where he had fallen 85 feet after chasing his windblown baseball cap....And two mothers of 15-year-old baseball players were arrested in Salt Lake City after beating unconscious the mother of the player who scored the winning run for the rival team.

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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