News of the Weird

Dec. 9, 2009
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Poland’s Damaged Goods

In October, Poland’s Polskie Radio reported an end to the 18-month legal battle between two neighbors in Mikowice over a plastic bucket worth about $4.50. One neighbor accused the other of ruining the bucket by kicking it, and wanted compensation for the bucket. The respondent offered proof of innocence by submitting video of the neighbor continuing to use the bucket as before, but a video expert testified that it was not possible to determine the date of the video—and, therefore, whether or not the footage had been recorded before or after the alleged damage. The accuser then countered by calling an “expert” witness on buckets who conducted tests and determined that a kick could indeed damage a plastic bucket. A district court eventually dropped the case altogether.

Least Competent Car Owners

(1) From a police report in the Oct. 6 Jersey Journal: An out-of-state visitor parked his Ferrari Modena overnight on a street in Jersey City, N.J. When he returned the next morning, the man found the car burglarized—among the missing items taken from the car was an Audemars Piguet watch worth $100,000. (2) In November, Andy House, 34, was driving a 2006 Bugatti Veyron EB—reputed to be one of the fastest and most expensive cars in the world, worth upward of $1 million—when he said he was distracted by a low-flying pelican while traveling in La Marque, Texas (on Galveston Island) and accidentally drove the car into a saltwater inlet.

News That Sounds Like a Joke

  • In September, prominent chocolate food engineer Hanna Frederick introduced her latest concoction at a conference of the Meat Industry Association of New Zealand: dark chocolate truffles tinged with venison and salami. Said Frederick: "There's this smoky taste to start, then a strong chocolate flavor comes in, and at the end you have this wonderful taste of salami." Earlier in the year, she introduced chocolates injected with Tongkat Ali, a Southeast Asian herb reputed to stimulate testosterone production.
  • In August, the Thorpe Park amusement facility in Chertsey, England, posted signs on a roller coaster admonishing riders not to wave their arms during the ride. According to director Mike Vallis, "We've found that when the temperature tops 77 degrees (Fahrenheit), the level of unpleasant (underarm) smells can become unacceptable, and we do receive complaints."

Family Values

(1) Kenny Jackson, 30, was arrested in St. Paul, Minn., in August after rampaging through his house, destroying furniture and menacing his son, 4, upon finding the boy wearing a blue shirt, which happens to be the color favored by a rival gang. (2) In April, Helen Ford was evicted from her home of 30 years in Cambridge, Mass., the result of, she says, being tricked by her foster son six years earlier to sign the house over to his "business associates" (who recently defaulted on the mortgage). Her foster son is former college and pro basketball player Rumeal Robinson, 43, who is under federal indictment for bank fraud. Ford (for exemplary community service) and Robinson (for basketball fame) are both prominent citizens of Cambridge, and the house in question sits on Rumeal Robinson Way.


  • In October, Lisa Blair and her six sisters were enjoying a Thanksgiving meal in Hamilton, Ontario (in Canada, Thanksgiving took place Oct. 12) when they began noticing suspicious flecks in the food. The women quickly realized that their necklace lockets, containing the ashes of their recently deceased mother, were leaking. A local funeral services store restocked and sealed the lockets.
  • In November, researchers roaming the depths of Scotland's Loch Ness in a submarine, looking for the legendary monster, reported finding mainly "hundreds of thousands" of golf balls at the bottom, from popular use of the lake as a driving range. A recent Danish Golf Union report lamented the slow decomposition of golf balls (taking 100 to 1,000 years), and one U.K. legislator has called golf balls "humanity's signature litter."
  • The October "Miss Asia" beauty pageant in Hong Kong mostly followed the traditional script, but special bonus competitions were added, according to a report in The Straits Times. Contestants appeared behind boards with only certain body parts exposed so that judges could comment without knowing which woman they were observing. Breast-judging turned out well for each of the three finalists, as did waist-judging. However, the judges had harsh words for two contestants' hair. Wang Zhi Fei was criticized for "lots of dandruff and oily scalp," and Wang Chen learned the hard way that she had significant "signs of hair loss."

Names in the News

(1) The victim of fatal gunshots in Buffalo, N.Y., in October: Mr. Mister Rogers, 23. (2) Arrested for flashing women in Annville Township, Pa., in October: Mr. Hung Thanh Vo, 19. (3) Sentenced for burglary in Portland, Ore., in November (for a December 2008 incident in which he broke into a house while nude and was detained by the 88-year-old female homeowner, who had grabbed hold of his scrotum): Mr. Michael G. Dick, 47. (4) Arrested (for the second time; the first was also reported in News of the Weird) for prostitution in Forsyth County, Ga., in October: massage parlor employee Mi Suk Yang, 47.

© 2009 Chuck Shepherd


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