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News of the Weird


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Lead Story

About two dozen committed Christians arrived at Cherokee Lodge, a nudist resort near Crossville, Tennessee, in June for a semiannual retreat called the Christian Nudist Convocation. According to an August story in the Nashville Scene, Christian nudists routinely encounter disapproval not only from other Christians, who see going naked as incompatible with their faith, but from other nudists, who don't seem to like being told about Jesus all the time.

Can't Possibly Be True

According to a Middle East correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, Iran's state news agency, IRNA, announced in July that Iranian agents had recently located and detained 14 spy squirrels that Western powers had sent into Iran outfitted with tiny surveillance cameras.

Buttons Pushed

One night in August at a Seattle bar, a karaoke rendition of the Coldplay song "Yellow" was halted almost immediately when a woman in the crowd shouted, "Oh, no, not that song. I can't stand that song!" Allegedly she then rushed the stage and attacked the singer. According to the local Post-Intelligencer, three or four patrons and employees managed to drag the unidentified woman (described by one bartender as a "little hippie girl") outside, but she continued to struggle, punching at least one of them in the face and repeatedly head-butting an off-duty police officer before other officers could handcuff her. (Witnesses said she'd had only one drink, a shot of Jagermeister.) And in Brisbane, Australia, in May 18-year-old Megan Conroy pleaded guilty to assault for an incident at a party her mother had thrown the year before: when a 40-year-old guest pronounced her name wrong (apparently he said it "maygan" rather than "meg-an"), she kneed and kicked him in the groin and told him to try again.


News of the Weird reported in March on efforts by the city of San Mateo, California, to get 46-year-old Estrella Benavides to remove what she claimed were messages from God--alluding to, among other things, the Mafia, Hitler, cloning, and Watergate--that she'd painted in huge letters on the sides and roof of her house. In August, not long after San Mateo finally filed suit against her, local news accounts revealed that Benavides owns a second house a few miles away in Belmont, where she'd recently spent the day painting "Help worse crime ever: evil + out of mind: from Bush to neighbors using witchcraft + technology against people not belong to their religious group:" above the garage door.

Recurring Themes

Ben Czislowski, a 24-year-old Australian, became the newest member of an elite group of rugby players in July when a medical exam revealed another player's tooth lodged in his head. Czislowski, playing for the Brisbane-area team Wynnum-Manly, had collided with opponent Matt Austin in an April match and continued to compete for several months unaware that Austin's tooth remained embedded in the flesh over his left eye.

Least Competent Criminals

Jail officials in Montgomery County, Maryland, don't typically read inmates' outgoing mail, according to an August article in the Washington Post, but they do check incoming mail for contraband. Thus it was only because a misaddressed letter written in April by 22-year-old murder defendant Quinton Thomas came back marked "return to sender" that certain incriminating statements made their way into prosecutors' hands. In the letter Thomas seemingly (a) reports that one of his friends has agreed to lie for him on the stand and (b) directs the intended recipient to put a potentially damaging witness out of commission while his trial is going on: "This white [expletive] can't make it to court on May 7 through May 12, ya feel me. I don't care what you gotta do, you don't even gotta stink the cracker, he just cant make it to Rockville that whole week Homie." (He was convicted.)

Undignified Deaths

In August in Lake Charles, Louisiana, a man was killed by a gunshot wound to the head; sheriff Tony Mancuso explained that the man and his girlfriend had been "engaged in consensual sexual behavior involving a firearm." Also in August, a 60-year-old woman was killed on a ranch near Mitchell, Australia, when the 330-pound ten-month-old male camel she'd received as a birthday present in March knocked her down and, in a display of either sexual interest or wholesome exuberance (interpretations varied), lay on top of her; in initial reports police weren't sure whether her death resulted from cardiac arrest or asphyxiation.

Neighbors: We Liked the Asthma Better

Scotland's Daily Record reported in July on 15-year-old David Armour of County Durham, England, who only two years earlier had suffered from severely debilitating asthma but developed his lung strength and beat the ailment by becoming a dedicated student of the bagpipe.

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

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