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Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird

Jan. 27, 2011
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Excited About Boredom

Two hundred boredom "activists" gathered in London in December at James Ward's "Boring 2010" conference to listen to ennui-stricken speakers glorify all things dreary. Included in the event were a demonstration of milk-tasting (in wine glasses, with a description of flavor and smoothness), charts breaking down the characteristics of a man's sneezes for three years, and a PowerPoint presentation on the color distribution and materials of a man's necktie collection from one year to the next. The presentation titled "My Relationship With Bus Routes" also seemed well received. Observed one attendee, to a Wall Street Journal reporter: "We're all overstimulated. I think it's important to stop all that for a while and see what several hours of being bored really feels like."

Compelling Explanations

Unclear on the Concept: A 41-year-old woman, arrested in Callaway, Fla., in December for beating her husband with a rock, explained that she was angry because her husband was endangering his health by smoking despite being ill. "A woman can only take so much," she said.

Least Competent Criminals

Ouch! (1) Joe Colclasure, 25, was arrested and charged with robbing a bank located inside an Albertsons supermarket in Palm Desert, Calif., in December. Several employees and customers had recognized Colclasure while he was committing the robbery, but it wasn't over for him until he accidentally slammed the bank's door on his hand during his attempted getaway. The pain disabled him long enough for police to arrive. (2) Thieves often leave trails that police can track from the scene to their home. For alleged shoplifter Michael Barton, 29, of Venango County, Pa., the trail allegedly was of his own blood, starting at the Wal-Mart where reportedly he had cut himself badly while removing razor blades from their packages in order to fit more into his pocket.

Bright Ideas

  • The Toronto Public Library (TPL) began its "Human Library" project in November with about 200 users registering to "check out" interesting persons from the community who would sit and converse with patrons who might not otherwise have the opportunity to mingle with people like them. The first day's lend-outs, for a half-hour at a time, included a police officer, a comedian, a former sex worker, a model, and a person who had survived cancer, homelessness and poverty. The Human Library actually harkens back to olden times, said a TPL official, where "storytelling from person to person…was the only way to learn."
  • If Life Gives You a Lemon, Make Lemonade: (1) When Bernie Ecclestone, CEO of the Formula One racing circuit, was mugged in November and had his jewelry stolen, he sent a photograph of his battered face to the Hublot watch company and convinced its chief executive to run a brief advertising campaign, "See What People Will Do for a Hublot." (2) In November, the treasurer of Idaho County, Idaho, turned down the idea of local physician Andrew Jones, who suggested that more cases of cancer might be detected early if the county sent colonoscopy reminders to residents along with their official tax notices. The treasurer said residents might find the reminders "ironic."


Elected officials caught violating the very laws they have championed are so numerous as to be “No Longer Weird,” but the alleged behavior of Colorado state Sen. Suzanne Williams following her December car crash warrants mention. Williams, a strong seat-belt and child-seat advocate, was driving near Amarillo, Texas, with her two grandchildren when her SUV drifted over the center line and hit another vehicle head-on, killing that driver and ejecting Williams' 3-year-old grandchild, who survived with injuries despite not wearing a seat belt. A Texas Department of Public Safety report noted that Williams was seen scooping up the child, returning him to the SUV and putting him in a seat belt.

2011 Chuck Shepherd


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