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Adult model not yet available: Laurita Bledsoe of Detroit was recently granted a patent for her Talking Pottie trainer, which fits over a toilet and uses computer-chip technology to play a recording giving kids applause and verbal congratulations for jobs well done.

According to an October Wall Street Journal profile, Randall C. Hutchens is making a comfortable living as he serves out a two-year jail sentence for tax evasion. He does some research on the value of a company's stock, then files a stockholder-fraud lawsuit in California's small-claims court falsely claiming losses, according to the Journal. The state doesn't allow lawyers in small-claims court, so companies settle rather than send executives to California to testify. So far Hutchens has received settlement checks in various amounts from 17 companies.

In September a judge in Newmarket, Ontario, found professional dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford, 39, guilty of running a house of prostitution, despite her claim that she was selling only role-playing sessions. The judge based his decision on evidence that some customers masturbated during the sessions. The court also heard testimony about a customer who wanted to be chased like a fly by a swatter-wielding Bedford and a man who pretended he was a floor tile while Bedford walked on him.

Unexpected Benefits

In October in Leicester, England, Terry Killeavy, 36, survived major heart surgery; he had detected an abnormality in his heart while playing with a toy stethoscope he had just won at a bar. And in Otley, England, in June, a car rushing Jennifer Simpson, 3, to a hospital to save her from choking on a coin collided with a van, causing her to cough up the obstruction.

Looking Out for Number One

During the October Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in Maryland, prominent Israeli rabbis David Batsri and his son Yitzhak told the Jerusalem Post that they were on a private plane circling Israel seven times while they offered a prayer for the talks' success when the plane developed engine trouble and was forced to make an emergency landing. Said Yitzhak, "We changed the subject of prayers from the plight of the Israeli people to our plight."

Leading Economic Indicators

In September schoolteachers in the Altai region of Siberia reluctantly agreed to accept 15 bottles of vodka each as partial back pay from the nearly bankrupt government. In October thieves in Volgograd, Russia, stole eight tons of mud, worth about $1,000, from a health spa. Also in October the Russian railway ministry announced it wouldn't carry any more mail until the post office pays its overdue bill, about $13 million. And in Thailand porn star Morakot Maneechai complained in September that the economic downturn is ruining her career. She claims her bust size has shrunk from 39 inches to 37 because she's lost weight.

Chief Surgeon to the Weird

In San Diego in May, unlicensed surgeon John Ronald Brown, 75, was arrested and charged with causing the death of an 80-year-old man who let Brown amputate a healthy leg. According to a friend, the patient suffered from apotemnophilia (deriving sexual gratification from the removal of a limb). Brown's license was revoked in 1977 after he botched several sex-change operations, but prosecutors believe he performed dozens of sex-change and breast augmentation surgeries after that.

News From the Animal Community

The Animal Rescue Foundation in Mobile, Alabama, finally captured a six-foot-tall, 150-pound emu that had escaped from its owner and apparently selected local resident Ed Stuardi as its mate. Stuardi and his wife cowered inside their home for two days while the emu circled the house making gutteral mating calls.

In June a study released by the Huelsenberg Agricultural Testing Station in Germany concluded that cows that slept on waterbeds, listened to Mozart, and received massages produced more and better-tasting milk. Two months before the study was released, Promat Ltd. in Ontario made plans to manufacture 45,000 cow mattresses, which the company thought would improve milk production by allowing cows to feel more comfortable when standing and sleeping.

In September thoroughbred racehorse Zippy Chippy not only lost his 85th consecutive race, tying the all-time record, but hurt his chances of breaking the record by indulging in his habit of dawdling at the gate for precious seconds after the starting bell, causing racetracks to ban him for fear of angering bettors.

Least Competent Criminal

In September Donald Portner, 18, and two friends placed a homemade pipe bomb in a portable toilet at a construction site in Manchester Township, Pennsylvania, and ran to a safe distance to wait. According to police, when nothing happened for nearly an hour, Portner couldn't resist returning to pick up the device and examine it. All three men were arrested after the subsequent explosion, and Portner was hospitalized.

Recurring Themes

News of the Weird has reported several times on construction workers who survived accidentally shooting themselves in the head with nail guns. In July a coworker of Travis Bogumill, 21, in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, accidentally fired a 31/4-inch nail into Bogumill's head. He recovered, but says math is more difficult for him than it used to be.

They're Not Cowards

Within days of each other in October, a 20-year-old college student in Morehead City, North Carolina, and a 21-year-old college student in Lansing, Michigan, died after accepting dares from their friends. The North Carolina man consumed a quantity of caffeine tablets equivalent to about 250 cups of coffee, and the Michigan man consumed 24 shots of an alcoholic beverage in less than two hours.

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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