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News of the Weird 

Lead Story

The Pasadena, California, Humane Society, using private funds, recently began construction of a $4.3 million dog-and-cat shelter that will feature towel-lined cages, skylights, "microclimate" air-conditioning, an aviary, sculptured bushes, "adoption counseling pavilions" in which people can meet with their prospective "companion animals," and according to the architect, "a very subdued, classical painting scheme." The Los Angeles Times, noting that there are four times as many shelters in the United States for animals as for battered women, quoted an outraged caseworker of a local shelter for the homeless: "It's mind-boggling. I want to know [who] their [funders] are."

Silver Tongues

Mesa, Arizona, councilman Jim Stapley discussed his support for building a larger airport at nearby Williams Air Force Base at a February meeting with local retired people who are opposed to the project because they are concerned about the potential noise. He told them not to worry because the airport wouldn't be built for another 20 years and "most of the people in this room will be dead."

Poet Aditya Damodaran, 11, whose first anthology was published in New Delhi last year: "I got interested in writing six years ago."

Federal Communications Commission acting chairman James Quello, reacting to radio shock-jock Howard Stern's statement that he would have to answer to a "higher authority" than the FCC for his so-called indecency, said, "I wouldn't be a bit surprised if someday a lightning bolt comes out of the sky and hits him right in the crotch."

From a woman's thank-you testimonial received in December by Porsche Cars North America: "Porsche spells safety in the most adverse situation." The woman had been sitting in a Porsche with her boyfriend when three shots, allegedly fired at the couple by her husband from a .44-caliber Magnum, missed the couple and lodged in the car's interior.

In December the California First District Court of Appeal ordered convicted probation violator Alfred Taylor to be resentenced by another judge after an incident involving his original trial judge, Joseph Carson. Immediately after receiving his sentence from Carson, Taylor had called the judge a "bitch ass motherfucker," a "kangaroo ass," and a "country ass bastard," to which Judge Carson had responded, "Fuck you, too."

Some of the 280 survivors (out of 340 passengers) of a Dutch charter plane that crashed in December in a wind gust in the resort town of Faro, Portugal, gathered that same month to tell their stories to reporters. Wim Kodman, 27, who is a botanist, said he was trying to calm a friend during the wind turbulence by appealing to logic. He said, "I told him, 'I'm a scientist--we're objective.' I told him a crash was improbable. I was trying to remember the exact probability when we smashed into the ground."

Sports News

In December the New Zealand High Court reduced the jail sentence of rugby player Rudi Crichton, 21, from five months to three. A lower court had found him guilty of deliberately grabbing another player by the testicles during a game in July, hospitalizing him for a week.

During a January hockey game at Madison Square Garden the New York Rangers' winning goal was disallowed when replays showed that the puck that went into the Vancouver Canucks' net with 22.3 seconds left in overtime in a 3-3 game was actually thrown in from the stands by a fan.

In December Boston Celtics basketball player Marcus Webb was placed on the disabled list with a fractured thumb, which he suffered as he was cracking his knuckles before a game at Sacramento.

In September model Christie Brinkley told the New York Times how hard it was for her to practice her favorite equestrian sport, cutting, in which a rider separates cows one at a time from a herd of about 75. The biggest problem, she said, is procuring the cattle. "I need to search high and low to find a herd. Then I rent the cattle for the weekend and bring them out and do a little cutting with them."

In March Brad Wade, the boys' basketball coach for Pretty Prairie High School in Kansas, apologized for his behavior in a game the previous week. Before the game Wade had forgotten to give the name of one of a set of twins to the official scorer, which meant that the boy could not have played in the game without a penalty. When the twin who was in the game suffered an injury, Wade told the unregistered twin to put on his brother's jersey and go in for him, hoping no one would notice. No one did, but Wade confessed later.

The Weirdo-American Community

In February police in Waukesha, Wisconsin, responding to a domestic disturbance, confronted a man in the dark. At first they thought he had a gun because they heard clicking sounds, then a flashlight revealed that the weapon was a staple gun and that the man had shot several staples into his eyes.

Least Competent People

Among the inquiries received by the sheriff's department in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, during the "storm of the century" in March, according to the Knoxville News-Sentinel: One caller wanted to know how she'd know when the power came back on and another wanted to know how come his power was off when he had just seen a car go by with its lights on.

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

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