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News of the Weird

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Lead Stories

In June both the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times reported that marketers have begun targeting a growing group of young, urban, heterosexual men who have a "heightened sense of aesthetics"--that is, they indulge in expensive skin creams and hair grooming products, custom-tailored clothes, exfoliation, manicures, interior decoration, and even plastic surgery. (Said one executive, "[This kind of man] doesn't buy green beans, he buys haricots verts.") Many pundits have adopted the term "metrosexual" for such a man, and point to English soccer star David Beckham (who's posed for the cover of a gay lifestyle magazine, and who sometimes paints his nails pink or wears his wife's panties) as an iconic example.

In June a man who suffered serious brain damage when he was hit by lightning in the parking lot of Cincinnati's Kings Island amusement park filed a lawsuit against the park. According to the man's lawyer, Drake Ebner, the park has a "duty of ordinary care" to warn its patrons against heading out to their cars when a thunderstorm is approaching. (Ebner has yet to claim that the park has a responsibility to inform people lightning is dangerous.)

News That Sounds Like a Joke

The mayor of Cedar City, Utah, has been publicizing an annual festival (to be launched next April) by concocting a fanciful back story: that in the 10th century, Vikings exploring the Pacific discovered a coral island, which was later split from its base by earthquakes and carried by a tsunami to where Cedar City now stands; that the Vikings flourished there for generations, until the American government swindled them out of their land in the 19th century; and that present-day authorities hope to make amends by granting the Vikings' descendants ownership of Cedar City during each ten-day festival. Most everyone understood this "history" as playful nonsense, but several residents of nearby Saint George contacted the mayor claiming to be Vikings or suggesting that a fictional cave full of Viking artifacts had been on their property. When the mayor explained the joke, they accused him of a cover-up.

People Different From Us

In May in Prestonburg, Kentucky, Anthony Scott Ward and Melissa Coleman were arrested on disorderly conduct charges after Ward bound Coleman facedown to a picnic table in a public park and spanked her with a boat oar. The police, who characterized the spanking as consensual foreplay, confiscated a cattle prod, a horsewhip, a stun gun, several vibrating clamps, and a variety of lubricants from the couple.

The Continuing Crisis

In April prosecutors dropped murder charges against Elizabeth Rudavsky, agreeing that she'd acted in self-defense in the stabbing death of her abusive husband, Angelo Heddington, who unbeknownst to Rudavksy was actually a woman. A friend who'd known Heddington as a teenager, when she'd first started living as a man, told a reporter, "She had soft hands, but she spit like a guy. The whole time you were talking to her, she'd have her hands in her pockets playing with herself like she was a guy." (Heddington had used a prosthetic penis and insisted on having sex in the dark, telling Rudavsky her genitals had been disfigured in a fire.)

London's Daily Mirror revealed in May that Harold Shipman, aka Doctor Death--who's serving a life sentence for killing 15 elderly patients (and whose total number of victims is believed to exceed 200)--had been allowed to assist sick prisoners in the hospital wing of the Frankland jail in County Durham, England. Said one prison source, "This man has spent his career secretly killing old people. Just imagine some poor guy's face when he looks up from his wheelchair and sees Doctor Death is pushing it."

Least Competent Criminals

In March in Scotia, New York, police arrested Malinda Kelly on several charges after spending several hours searching for her "stolen" car and three-month-old son, who'd been inside it. Kelly had left the car idling when she ran down the street to burglarize her uncle's home, but then forgot where she'd parked, panicked, and called police to report the car stolen. (She did manage to steal a little money, but during the break-in someone snatched her purse--which she'd also left in the car.)

Awesome!

In May in North Branch, Michigan, Jessica Parks graduated from high school with a GPA of 3.65 and a varsity letter in cheerleading, among other achievements--despite the fact that she was born without arms. Because she's never used false limbs, she's developed several specialized skills, like putting her contact lenses in with her toes and driving her car with one foot on the gas and one on the steering wheel.

In the Last Month

Robert Mottram of Southport, England, pleaded to have his 30 parking tickets dismissed because a brain hemorrhage has destroyed his short-term memory, so that he can never remember where he's parked. And officials in Lagos, Nigeria, implemented a plan to combat the city's notorious gridlock: a motorist arrested for driving recklessly will have his car impounded, and to secure its return he must be certified "of sound mental fitness" by a psychiatric clinic.

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

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