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News of the Weird 

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Lead Story

Police Reports column in the Press-Star of New London, Wisconsin, July 23: "1:15 p.m., a juvenile approached an officer at [Hortonville Police Department] complaining about having a lock stuck around his right testicle for three days and he didn't know how to get it off. . . . [After the officer obtained a master key], the juvenile left the room for a moment and returned with the lock. The officer spoke to the juvenile about experimenting with sexuality and how he needs to be more careful in the future."

People Different From Us

In September 49-year-old Jackie Lee Shrader of Bluewell, West Virginia, and his 24-year-old son, Harley Lee Shrader, briefly exchanged pistol fire during a dispute over how to cook chicken for dinner. (Harley was wounded in the ear.) That same month in Wasilla, Alaska, Niccolo Rossodivita, 62, allegedly shot Billy Cordova, 40, twice in the chest; Cordova had been following Rossodivita around their house prolonging an argument over the correct name of Jesus. And in May Angela Morris, 19, of Eugene, Oregon, was charged with domestic assault: she was preparing french fries while she and her boyfriend argued over a Bible verse they'd been reading; the quarrel ended abruptly when she allegedly flung boiling oil at him, severely burning his face, neck, and chest.

Scenes of the Surreal

According to a Washington Post dispatch, attendees at this year's East Coast Bigfoot Conference (held in September near Pittsburgh) complained of not being taken seriously by their counterparts in the west-coast bigfoot community, who are generally certain that the giant primate lives only west of the Rocky Mountains. One conference speaker tried to resolve an ongoing dispute--whether the bigfoot is a terrestrial creature (as the west-coast community insists) or a ghost or alien (as certain east-coasters believe)--by suggesting that North America is inhabited by both living bigfoots and the ghosts of dead bigfoots.

Can't Possibly Be True

As a result of a September sting operation in Dallas, Thomas Patrick Remo, 50, was charged with practicing medicine without a license. Since the arrest was made public at least three women have told police they answered Remo's newspaper ad offering free gynecological exams, which he allegedly conducted out of an office at the self-storage facility where he worked.

Our Litigious Society

Patricia Frankhouser filed a lawsuit in November against the Norfolk Southern railway after being knocked down by a passing train in January as she walked near railroad tracks a few blocks from her home in Jeannette, Pennsylvania. Frankhouser, who suffered cuts and a broken finger, argued that Norfolk Southern should have posted signs along the tracks warning people to keep clear because trains might be coming.

Creme de la Weird

At an Australian conference of sleep researchers in October, Dr. Peter Buchanan reported on the phenomenon of "sleep sex," a specific form of a sleep disorder in which subjects retain enough muscle control during the REM phase to act out their dreams. Buchanan described a patient who repeatedly left her house at night while fast asleep and sought out sex with strangers, apparently remembering none of it afterward; anticipating a skeptical response to his diagnosis, he acknowledged that "incredulity is the first staging post for anyone involved in this."

Least Competent Criminals

Paul Michael Callahan, 32, was arrested in Boston on August 30 after, according to police, a busy but unsuccessful day robbing banks. It started badly when Callahan allegedly tried to hold up a copy shop on the Boston University campus, apparently confused by an ATM sign outside and believing it to be a branch of Fleet Bank. (The clerk reportedly asked, "Do you know you're in a copy store and all we can give you is copies?") Callahan asked directions, then fled. He allegedly robbed a nearby Fleet Bank within the hour (getting less than $200) and later a Citizen's Bank (clearing about $2,500). Not quite a mile away from the second crime scene, however, his getaway truck blew a tire, and police found him hiding in a gas station, soaked with red dye.

Readers' Choice

When a mosaic commissioned by Livermore, California, for its new library was unveiled in May, 11 of the 175 names and terms from art, science, and history contained in the piece were found to be spelled wrong. Artist Maria Alquilar, who received $40,000 for the work, was unapologetic, saying that local officials should have caught the mistakes during installation and that "people who are into humanities" wouldn't be bothered by misspellings like "Shakespere," "Eistein," and "Van Gough." Barred by state law from removing or altering public art without the artist's consent, the city council voted in October to pay an additional $6,000 to have Alquilar return from Miami to fix the names, but public reaction--in the form of over 1,000 hostile, sometimes abusive e-mails and phone calls to the artist--so angered her that she initially refused, saying she'd rather the mosaic be destroyed. A few days later Alquilar agreed to come back and make the changes once the issue had cooled down.

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

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