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News of the Weird

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Lead Story

After ten years of trying, Roger Tullgren of Hassleholm, Sweden, recently succeeded in having his consuming interest in heavy-metal music officially classified as a disability. According to June accounts in the Swedish press, after the 42-year-old was fired from his last job for repeated absences--he plays in two metal bands and attends hundreds of shows a year--he met with occupational psychologists and ultimately obtained a document entitling him to supplemental income and shielding him from discrimination. The restaurant where he now washes dishes permits him to miss work for concerts and make up the hours later, listen to metal in the kitchen as long as it doesn't disturb diners, and wear all the skeleton-themed jewelry he likes.

Government in Action

In May, after reviewing previously classified reports and correspondence, the AP revealed the origins of an alert issued earlier this year by the Defense Department warning that coins rigged with tiny transmitters had been planted on U.S. military contractors traveling in Canada. Apparently the coins that had the contractors worried enough to file confidential espionage reports (calling them "anomalous" and suggesting they might contain nanotechnology) were just special-edition 25-cent pieces, commemorating Canadian war dead, that featured a bright red poppy against a silver background. Canada minted almost 30 million such quarters in 2004.

Town vs. Gown

Kyle Perry, a track star at Brigham Young University, was reportedly driving down a street in Provo, Utah, in June when he got into an angry exchange with a man pushing mops in a rolling bucket. According to witnesses, Perry jumped out of his car, grabbed a mop, and started swinging it at the man, who picked up another mop and defended himself with it. The mop fight ended when the pedestrian fell over a planter box and bumped his head; Perry was charged with aggravated assault.

Can't Possibly Be True

Last month in Sydney, Australia, Gordon Wood was ordered to stand trial for the murder of his onetime fiancee Caroline Byrne, who was found dead at the bottom of a cliff in 1995. Among the evidence presented at the hearing was a statement from a morgue attendant who told police that a few hours after the body was discovered Wood showed up at the morgue, identified himself as Byrne's boyfriend, and asked, "Do you mind if I look at her tits?"

Compelling Explanations

Robert Theriault, formerly a courthouse security officer in Franklin, New Hampshire, was sentenced in April to community service following a conviction on prostitution charges. A couple testified that Franklin offered them $20 an hour to help him evaluate bedsheets and condoms for an insurance company by having sex while he watched.

Hard-Asses

The UK's Daily Mail reported in July on 62-year-old Jenny Brown of Wimblington, England, whose sponge cake took second prize in a recent village baking competition even though Brown was the only entrant. An event official speculated that the judges simply didn't consider the cake worthy of a first-place finish.

Updates

Last August News of the Weird reported on a controversy at Amarnath Cave, a Hindu shrine in northern India containing a naturally recurring ice formation venerated by pilgrims as a lingam, or phallic symbol, associated with the god Shiva: someone had tried to pass off a substitute lingam made of snow because the real lingam hadn't attained its usual size or shape. This year, according to reports from Amarnath, the ice lingam formed properly at first but melted months earlier than is typical; officials blamed a combination of climate change and unauthorized hugging, patting, and scraping by worshipers.

Least Competent Criminals

In June in New Castle, Delaware, 28-year-old Branden Tingey was charged with burglary after he was caught allegedly trying to break into a restaurant safe. Police said two employees walked into the manager's office after hours and found Tingey, who'd been fired from the restaurant several years earlier, using the office computer to search for online information on safecracking.

Undignified Deaths

The price of love: A 21-year-old man died of injuries after he fell off a large rock near Beach City, Ohio, in April: he was trying to spray-paint a message to his girlfriend Kaylee on the rock's face but got only as far as "ART ยช KA" before he lost his balance. A friend who was there told reporters, "He kept saying her name was too long." And in Redwood City, California, in May, 31-year-old Nicole Faller was sentenced to a year in jail on drug charges; the key evidence in the case was a home video, discovered by paramedics called to the scene, that showed Faller and an unnamed 43-year-old man using methamphetamine, the two of them having sex, and ultimately the man having a heart attack and dying. (Faller, who apparently forgot the camera was on, is also seen dragging the body out of the room, calling 911, and pocketing the unused meth.)

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

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