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News of the Weird



Lead Story

A Web site now enables users to physically stimulate one another over the Internet. According to a September report on, the wireless Sinulator system allows a sex toy owned by one user to be controlled by any other user who knows the toy's password, via mouse and keyboard or a transmitting sleeve placed over the penis (or dildo): the speed and force of thrusts on the transmitting end are translated into vibration and pulsing on the receiving end. "Thus," explains the Wired writer, "a man can be thrusting in Cleveland while a woman is penetrated in Seattle."

His Genes Are Still in the Pool

In Clarksville, Indiana, in May, Jason Grisham climbed about 15 feet up a 60-foot electrical tower (surrounded by warning signs and a fence topped with barbed wire) before receiving a 69,000-volt shock and falling off. Miraculously, the 22-year-old walked away from the accident, which knocked out power to nearly 7,000 customers. According to the police report, Grisham's chest was burned extensively and "his pants appeared to have exploded."

Throwing the Book at 'Em

In February a 38-year-old Disney World worker dressed as Pluto was killed when he was run over by a parade float. The incident was termed a "serious" workplace violation by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration in August, when it fined Disney $6,300.

Fine Points of the Law

In New York City in September, a state supreme court justice ruled that a criminal conviction could not be overturned just because a juror may have been drunk. Though the juror admitted that the 16-ounce bottle of water he sipped from throughout deliberations was about half vodka, and his fellow jurors described him as "overly effusive," "scatterbrained," and "inappropriately forthcoming with opinions and directions," New York has no law against drinking while serving on a jury. In the same month the Ohio supreme court overturned a judge's order requiring that 32-year-old Sean Talty, who is $38,000 behind in support payments for his seven children, abstain from further procreation for the next five years. (Talty's lawyer said his client had fathered no new children while the order was under appeal.)

Government in Action

After Jesse Huffman, 19, used the men's room at the Port of Sweet Grass--north of Shelby, Montana, on the U.S. side of the Canadian border--in August, officers accused him of deliberately clogging the toilet. Although Huffman told them he suffers from irritable bowel syndrome and offered to plunge the toilet, he was arrested for misdemeanor criminal mischief and driven 38 miles to Shelby to be photographed and fingerprinted, spending six hours in custody. Charges were dropped ten days later.

According to an August report in the News Journal of Pensacola, Florida, the area under a huge oak tree in Fort Walton Beach is the scene of several dozen drug- and prostitution-related arrests every month. The sheriff's office, pushed by local activists, recently proposed a remedy for the constant crime: it asked county officials for permission to cut down the tree.

Least Competent Criminals

A 28-year-old robbery convict with a history of escape attempts tried to tunnel his way out of prison in Coimbra, Portugal, but was detected by officials in June after digging only about 6 feet, roughly 70 feet short of clearing the building he was housed in. As it happened, the tunnel was heading not toward the perimeter wall but toward a patio well inside the prison.

Most Competent Animals

In September staff members at Battersea Dogs Home in London were mystified when dogs began escaping from their cages every night, roaming the premises and getting into containers of food. After setting up surveillance cameras staff learned that Red, a three-year-old greyhound mix, was using his nose and teeth to unlock his cage, then freeing an apparently favored group of other dogs, always starting with Lucky, the dog with whom Red had been found and brought to the kennel.


In 2002 David Arndt, then a successful 41-year-old Boston surgeon, had his license suspended for leaving a patient in the middle of an operation to run out and cash a check; he was arrested shortly after that on charges including drug possession and statutory rape, which are still pending. He made News of the Weird in 2003 when he applied for legal-assistance funds, saying he didn't want a public defender but couldn't afford to pay his lawyer. In August a federal magistrate denied Arndt bail on further charges brought last year when he received via Express Mail a pink, phallus-shaped pinata filled with an estimated $100,000 worth of methamphetamine.

Readers' Choice

Stephen P. Linnen, 34, formerly a lawyer for the Ohio House Republican caucus, was sentenced in September to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to 53 misdemeanors, most in connection with his habit of springing out naked at unsuspecting women and photographing their faces. However, Judge Tommy Thompson refused to label Linnen a sex offender and granted him work-release privileges, allowing him to keep his job as a legal clerk (he'll also retain his law license). Although Linnen admitted to committing 40 of his trademark ambushes, Thompson said Linnen wasn't likely to repeat the offense and poses "absolutely no risk to public safety."

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

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