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Within two days of each other in August, in the Kansas towns of Lawrence and Dodge City, runaway tourist-attraction stagecoaches crashed. The Lawrence coach veered into a ditch, injuring one man. A horse on the Dodge City coach took off into the street, running into a parked car before overturning the coach and injuring five elderly passengers.

Right place, right time: In Pittsburgh during the Steelers-Ravens football game in September, Allen E. Adams was picked up on an outstanding arrest warrant when a police officer recognized his name as a winner in the halftime field-goal-kicking promotion. During the same month in Victoria, British Columbia, a federal tax agent heard the announcement of the winner of radio station CKKQ's song-identification contest, recognized him as a prominent tax delinquent, and within an hour had the winner's $1,000 signed over to the government.

Opponents of Thailand's prime minister Banharn Sipla-archa said he lied about his birthday this year when he claimed it was August 19 and not July 20. They said he changed the date on the advice of an astrologer so he could be a Leo and thus a better leader. And in June, India's new prime minister, H.D. Deve Gowda, said he moved into his official residence a week ahead of schedule because his astrologers said it would be better for him.

Cultural Diversity

A May Washington Post story on marital abuse in central and southern African nations reported that among certain ethnic groups, only 3 percent of wives think they should report their being beaten to the police. Said one social worker, "A lot of men--and women--think that beating your wife is something you do if you really care about her." In some groups, said another, if a man's wife dies from causes not related to abuse, he rehabilitates his manhood by beating the corpse.

The New York Times reported in September on Tokyo's trendy "host clubs," which cater only to women and feature young men as servers and dance partners. The mostly middle-aged clientele say such clubs are virtually the only places in the country in which they can be treated well and not be expected to wait on men. And the Los Angeles Times reported in August on the success of the long-standing 370-female Takarazuka Revue, whose most successful production number has its women cross-dressing and portraying the kind of man many Japanese women say they rarely get to see--one who's suave, romantic, affectionate, and considerate.

In August the Far Eastern Economic Review reported on the modernization of the traditional Mongolian meal of boodog--goat broiled inside a bag made from its carefully cut and tied skin. No longer barbecued over an open fire, the goat is now typically cooked with a blowtorch.

The Islamic court that sets rules for the northern half of Mogadishu, Somalia, announced in September that men, like the prophet Mohammed, must have beards. Said the court chairman, "Those who shave like Elvis Presley, Sylvester Stallone, and the U.S. Marines will not go unpunished." Two weeks later, Afghanistan's new ruling Taliban leadership made a similar decree for male government employees.

In September, Peggy-Sue Khumalo, 23, the recently crowned Miss South Africa, said she planned to sacrifice a goat to her ancestors in gratitude for her success. She also said that if she won the Miss World title in India in November, she'd slaughter a cow and ten oxen.

According to a July Knight-Ridder report on the customs in the mountain region of northern Albania, a teenage daughter whose father dies may dress and behave like a man for the rest of her life to ensure that her family isn't left unprotected. Other males generally accept the new "man" with full male privileges.

Latest Surges of Testosterone

The latest in pervert technology: Police in Toronto arrested a 62-year-old retired schoolteacher in September for allegedly videotaping under the skirts of about 30 women via a "shoe cam"--a pinpoint-size lens connected by wires to a camera hidden in his waist pouch. And in July, police in Portland, Oregon, accused Jess Mitchell Townsend, 36, of rigging a "toilet cam" in public ladies' rooms over the last two years. Apparently the wide-angle lens was barely visible from inside the tank.

Physicians writing in the February issue of the journal Genitourinary Medicine reported having to perform surgery for a man with genital pain. The man reluctantly admitted that about 12 years before his wife had inserted a mascara brush into his urethral opening during sex play and that the tip of the brush broke off. Doctors found that fibrous tissue had covered the brush piece, trapping it.

More foot fetishists: A man described as age 25 and husky posed as a national shoe-company representative in August and got at least one woman in Parsippany, New Jersey, to remove her shoe so he could smell it. And in June a Boston high school teacher was suspended for allegedly sucking the toes of a female student after school.

Workplace Tragedies

A 28-year-old expert mountain climber fell to his death near Redding, California, in September as he was teaching safety techniques to a group of teenagers. He had severed his main line to demonstrate the security of the second line when the second line failed. And in August two racehorses with eight victories between them died at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, when they crashed into each other head-on during a morning workout.

Update

For at least the fifth time in News of the Weird's nine years, a girl or young woman has been convicted of dressing as a male in order to improve her chances of dating another female. In September a 17-year-old girl was convicted in Kingsport, Tennessee, of three counts of sexual assault by fraud against another 17-year-old girl.

Send your weird news to Chuck Shepherd, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611.

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

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