News of the Weird 

Lead Stories

When farmers are done for the day, pigs start to party, said agricultural researchers in Reading, England, in an April London Daily Telegraph article. According to Nick Bird of the research firm Farmex, pigs eat, drink, and roughhouse until about midnight before retiring for the evening, at least in buildings that are well-lighted. Farmex now wants to know whether this has any effect on the supply of bacon.

Remembering Diana: Abdel Rahaman opened a delicatessen named the Diana-Dodi Corp. in New York City in March, without the approval of either the royal family or the Fayeds. The makers of Flora margarine did get approval for special tubs of Thanks/Diana margarine, which went on sale in Britain in March. Also in March, a British publisher released the anthology Poems for a Princess, all by people generously described as "amateur poets," selling for about $30 in paperback. A review in the Observer called it "possibly the worst book of poetry ever published."

In April the Kentucky legislature approved a bill to permit preachers to carry concealed weapons in church. Some ministers had claimed they needed protection while transporting church donations, but the executive director of the Kentucky Council of Churches said she was appalled by the legislature's decision.

Latest in Bathroom-Hygiene Technology

Jacques Robaey, 57, of Dunkirk, France, announced in December that he had begun to take orders for his enclosed rest rooms (meant to be used as public toilets), which feature doors that lock automatically when the toilet is used and will not unlock unless the user runs water from the sink for ten seconds or longer. And in January inventor Leonard Bruyere of Warrenton, Missouri, started selling a small device that attaches to the side of a toilet and sucks out odors, yours for only $350. "I just kept thinking," he said, "why the heck do people have to smell their own waste?"

Another Weird Thing About California

A report issued by a California legislative committee in April suggested changing the state law that permits motorists to use fictitious names on their driver's licenses. The provision was intended to help celebrities who have stage names.

Feral Youth

Among the chilling incidents recorded in the weeks before and after the March shootings in Jonesboro, Arkansas: in Covington, Louisiana, a 12-year-old boy and others planted bombs in their school; in Cleveland, Ohio, a 4-year-old boy brought a loaded gun to day care; in Daly City, California, a 13-year-old boy fired a shot at his school principal; in Queens, New York, an 8-year-old boy took a loaded gun to school, as did two 8-year-old boys in Indianapolis; in Kennewick, Washington, a 12-year-old boy was found to have a hit list of teachers and students, as was a 15-year-old boy in West Lafayette, Ohio; in Millersville, Maryland, three boys left three unrelated bomb threats, and a fourth was arrested for plotting to kill a classmate; in Greenville, North Carolina, an 11-year-old boy threatened to shoot several classmates; and in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, a 14-year-old boy shot up a school door because of a bad report card. Also, when the Jonesboro boys were caught, one of their jail mates was a 13-year-old boy accused of shooting a classmate in the face.

A 13-year-old boy was convicted in April of trying to organize a prostitution ring at his school in Reston, Virginia. According to testimony, a 12-year-old girl (whom the boy called "my main ho") forced seven other girls to pay for "introductions" to boys, and several boys paid $10 to $20 each for sex, although there was no evidence that any sexual activity actually occurred. A police officer said the leader told him he was a pimp and had made $75 so far, which he had spent on Eddie Bauer T-shirts.

Names in the News

A Toronto physician who was sued in March for botching a penis-enlargement operation is named Robert Stubbs. And the Food and Drug Administration's spokesperson on inquiries about the new impotence pill Viagra is Janet Woodcock.

Recent Wisdom

In September fraud suspect John Earl Petersen attempted to explain some of the charges against him to a reporter for the Spokane Spokesman- Review: "I wasn't involved, absolutely not. My name was used and my accounts were used. No, scratch that. That's a lie....I'm involved in investment opportunities, real estate. Strike that, too. That's a lie. Just say I'm a businessman and have been since 1985."

Montana district judge Diane Barz commented in October on the trend among ordinary defendants in Billings to claim that the courts have no authority over them, as do the Montana Freemen confined in jail there: "[The Freemen are] contaminating our good criminals."

Steve Thompson, wildlife biologist at Yosemite National Park, told the New York Times in November that the 600 car break-ins by bears in 1997 were mainly due to campers leaving food inside their vehicles: "My problems start when the smarter bears and the dumber visitors intersect."

Reverend Paul Donner, of Saint Paul Lutheran Church in Paducah, Kentucky, described accused mass murderer Michael Carneal, 14, in December: "I'm firmly convinced Michael Carneal is a Christian. He's a sinner, yes, but not an atheist."

Mayoral candidate Billy Hudgins, 48, of Newport News, Virginia, discussed in March his recent arrest for patronizing a prostitute, which he says should not be a crime: "So many times I've met women and tried to get a date with them. 'You're too old [they would say]. You're too ugly.' Girls that work the streets--there is no age or ugliness. They don't look at it that way."

Recurring Themes

In 1988 News of the Weird reported on the introduction of "six-day" underwear at a Japanese inventors' expo. The underwear has three leg holes, so the wearer can rotate one leg hole per day, then turn the garment inside out for three more days. In February of this year two women in Metairie, Louisiana, obtained a patent for panty hose with three legs; the spare can be used if one leg develops a run.

Thinning the Herd

In March a 24-year-old man was struck and killed in the fast lane of I-80 in Vallejo, California, when he ran across the highway to retrieve a baseball cap that had blown off his head. Two weeks earlier a 20-year-old Guatemalan sailor on a boat on the Mississippi River near New Orleans had drowned after jumping in the water to retrieve his baseball cap.

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 by Shawn Belshwender.

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