News of the Weird | News of the Weird | Chicago Reader

News of the Weird 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

Lead Story

A new TV game show set to air early next year in England and Italy pits divorcing spouses against each other, with the objective of determining how their property will be divided. Instead of relying on costly lawyers or counselors, the spouses answer questions on the air about each other and their relationship. The spouse who gives the "better" answers will get more of the property.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

In July the Tokyo-based drug firm Dairin announced it would soon market a premeal pill to make bowel movements odorless. The pill was developed principally for the health-care market, to improve working conditions for nurse's aides, but some commentators in Japan fear that the availability of the pill to consumers will increase Japan's obsession with cleanliness. Psychiatry professor Susumu Oda said that overreaction to unpleasant smells is already a cause of unsociable behavior.

The Economist magazine reported in January on one of Secretary of Energy Hazel O'Leary's success stories about government research scientists doing work for civilian businesses: Argonne National Laboratory helping McDonald's find a way to speed up french frying. A team headed by physicist Tuncer Kuzay, who interrupted his work on photons, placed sensors inside the frozen fries, then designed special frying baskets to deal with the effect of steam created by melting ice crystals and to cut 30 to 40 seconds off the frying time of each batch.

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce recently lauded the waste-management practice of the Crib Diaper Service of Plymouth, which donates the lint gathered from laundering 250,000 diapers per week to a casket manufacturer to use in stuffing casket pillows--saving the diaper service $3,000 a year.

Reuters News Service reported in June that a men's underwear advertisement on a billboard in Tel Aviv features the product with a photo of the late prime minister Golda Meir and the slogan "Eventually we remember those who had balls."

In July the Massachusetts board that regulates funeral homes took away the license of Robert Miller for two years after finding that he'd dug up the ashes of two cremated bodies after relatives failed to pay funeral bills. The families said the bills were larger than the original estimates.

Eh-uuuh, Gross!

According to two officials of Kentucky Baptist organizations, a recent trend to move baptisms indoors was caused primarily by the increasing pollution of creeks and rivers. Said Pastor Dick Verhoose, "You've got dead animals, you've got open sewers." Said Reverend James Kelly Caudill, "There's [no nearby river] fit to baptize a dog in, to be honest with you."

Milton Ross, 41, who was feuding with coworkers in Saint Joseph, Missouri, was fired in July after a video camera caught him urinating directly into the office coffeepot before coworkers arrived at work. The videotape trap was set after people noticed that the coffee started tasting sour. The next day in Lanagan, Missouri, 200 miles south of Saint Joseph, four arrests were made after witnesses reported seeing men urinating into the town's water supply. Residents were advised for more than a week to boil their water.

In a July report the New York Times contrasted the image of Singapore as a clean, sweet-smelling nation with the characteristics of its national fruit, the durian. The "spiky, soccer ball-sized globe" of sweet, custardlike fruit, which purportedly has aphrodisiacal qualities, has, according to local descriptions, the aroma of "overripe cheese, rotting fish, unwashed socks [or] a city dump on a hot summer's day." A popular saying is that the durian has "the smell from hell and a taste from heaven."

A Wall Street Journal feature in June reported on British executive Jim Rose, manager of a new line of pet food for Britain's Safeway Stores. Safeway Stores uses a "test panel" of 2,000 dogs and cats, but Rose carefully tastes every product under development, as well as competitors' products, leading his wife to refer to him affectionately as "dog breath." A spokesman for rival Ralston-Purina said, "We don't use humans to test pet foods."

According to a New York Times report in November, Romesh Sharma of New Delhi has fingernails that measure a total of 196 inches on his left hand; he hasn't trimmed them in 30 years. The fingernails on his right hand are trimmed normally.

In a two-week period beginning in late April a male logger in Western Kentucky working on a truck engine and a female employee cleaning a commercial blender in Los Angeles had their scalps torn completely from their heads, from ear to ear, from eyebrows to the back of the neck, but survived without being obviously disfigured. The scalps were retrieved and reattached after microsurgery of 12 to 14 hours' duration.

Cries for Help

A 69-year-old man in San Mateo, California, distraught over recent eye surgery, unsuccessfully attempted to kill himself five times during a two-day period in August. He slashed his wrists, stabbed himself in the stomach with a 12-inch knife, tried to drown himself, took an overdose of Tylenol, and jumped from a second-story window with his neck tied to the house with a clothesline, which broke. At that point he decided he wanted to live.

Least Competent Person

In March Adelio Vazquez, 50, was arrested in Chicago and charged with attempting to rob the downtown Liberty Bank. According to a teller, Vazquez presented a note saying a bomb would go off unless he received $45,000. The teller told Vazquez that such a large request required a manager's approval, and that Vazquez should take a seat until the teller could get the money. The teller called the police, who arrived to find Vazquez still seated in the waiting area, chatting with a bank manager.

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

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Chuck Shepherd

Popular Stories