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[NEWS OF THE WEIRD]

THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT!

One notably hypersuccessful YouTube channel (700,000 subscribers) features Mr. Lauri Vuohensilta of Finland pulverizing various objects (such as a bowling ball) in a 100-ton hydraulic press. (Said Vuohensilta, “I think it’s built into every person — the need to destroy something.”) That channel is free of charge, but other entrepreneurs have created 24-hour payper-month websites and apps offering similarly specialized programming, e.g., “Zombie Go Boom” (actors taking chain saws to things; $5 a month), “Hungry Monk Yoga” (posing in orange robes while teaching martial arts; $15 a month), and “Lather Fantasies” (clothed people “excessively shampooing each other’s hair”; $20 a month). (An April Wall Street Journal report noted that the “lather” channel “sounds kinkier than it actually is.”)

UPDATES — Two News of the Weird All-Time Favorites: (1) Obsessive litigant Jonathan Lee Riches asked a federal court in Billings, Montana, in April to somehow issue a well-meaning “restraining” order against Donald Trump — to force Trump out of the presidential race on the ground that he fears assassination. Riches wrote that he loves and adores Trump but suggested as a candidate John McCain (who is “less fiery”). (2) Mr. “Beezow Doo-doo Zopittybop-bop- bop,” 34, was arrested in January for assaulting an Evergreen State College (Olympia, Washington) police officer. Mr. Zoppitybop-bop-bop (originally, Jeffrey Wilschke) had made News of the Weird several years back with arrests under his new name in Wisconsin and Iowa.

— In April, the Sacramento Bee revealed (from freedom of information requests) that University of California, Davis, officials had spent at least $175,000 in scarce state higher-education funds merely to attempt to scrub the Internet of references to the notorious 2011 incident in which a campus police officer deliberately pepper-sprayed the faces of restrained, helpless protesters. The public relations venture was part of a campaign by the school’s chancellor, Linda Katehi, to rehabilitate her image after cutbacks to academic programs. (Other critics ridicule as futile almost any attempt — ever — to scrub news from the Internet.)

— What is believed to be the longestrunning armed standoff in U.S. history came to a quiet conclusion on Jan. 6 in Trinidad, Texas, when John Joe Gray outlasted the district attorney — never having left his 47-acre ranch in the past 15 years. In 1999, Gray, carrying a pistol but without a permit, resisted arrest and bit a state trooper, retreating to his property, refusing to leave for court. The sheriff, explaining why his deputies declined to go after him, once said, “Joe Gray has been in prison out there himself (for 14 years).” (Actually, the charges were dismissed in December 2014, but when the district attorney left office, he failed to notify Gray or the deputies.)

RECURRING THEMES (Recent examples of traditional weird news themes repeated over “News of the Weird’s” 28 years, along with updates on a few of our favorite characters.)

— Restaurants in Tokyo continue their vigilance for unique, attention-demanding animal themes to attract diners. Eateries showcasing tableside cats, rabbits, owls, hawks and even snakes have tried their hands, with the latest being Harry, offering food and drink — and 20 to 30 teacup size hedgehogs for diners to fondle while awaiting meal service. The equivalent of $9 brings an hour of cuddling rights.

— Fine Points of the Law: In some states, as News of the Weird has reported, visitors with the barest “right” to occupy property (e.g., invited in for one night but never left) cannot be evicted except by court order, which might take weeks to obtain. In April, owners in Flint, Michigan, and Nampa, Idaho, were outraged that nothing could be done quickly to remove squatters from their vacated houses. (The Nampa squatter produced a “lease” that, though fraudulent, was enough to send the sheriff away.)

— The two most recent instances of suspects who claimed that the drugs or paraphernalia found in their genitals during police searches were not theirs (but were only being stored there for other people) were Tiffany Flores, 23, arrested in Fellsmere, Florida, on April 5 with a crack pipe in her vagina, and Deondre Lumpkin, 23, arrested in Largo, Florida, on March 22 with crack cocaine “concealed beneath his genitals” (though he did admit owning the marijuana found in his car). !

© 2016 Chuck Shepherd. Universal Press Syndicate.

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