News of the Weird
Martha Padgett gave birth to quadruplets in Riverside, Calif. in July, but she only did half the work. The other two babies were born to her partner, Karen Wesolowski, using Padgett’s eggs and the same sperm donor, and whose two came along 22 hours after Padgett’s two. The women carried two fertilized eggs each only because they had failed five times before with in-vitro fertilization and just wanted to improve the odds of having at least one child between them.
Latest religious messages
• “Someone’s getting a new spinal cord tonight!” yelled Canadian tent-revival preacher Todd Bentley in July during his crusade in Lakeland, Fla. (also telecast on GodTV and the internet), according to an Associated Press observer. Miracles are “popping like popcorn,” he promised, punctuating each hands-on salvation with an Emeril-type “Bam!” His unorthodoxy extends to sometimes roughing up the afflicted, he admits, because that’s what God tells him to do, e.g., kneeing a “cancer patient” in the stomach, banging a crippled woman’s leg on a platform. Anyone in need of healing should, Bentley shouts often, “come and get some!”
• The most popular UK Hindu temple east of London appears to be the spare bedroom of Sushila Karia and her husband, Dhirajlal, in a quiet residential neighborhood in the resort town of Clacton-on-Sea. On holy days, the line of pilgrims extends down the hall and stairs, through the living room, out the door and across the lawn, according to a May report in London’s Daily Mail. The temple, inaugurated 29 years ago to save Hindus the 90-mile round trip to London, contains 17 marble gods that were specially blessed for the occasion by priests in India.
• France’s Council of State turned down an otherwise-acceptable petition for citizenship by a French Moroccan woman in July, on the ground that her total submission to her husband makes her “insufficient[ly]” “assimilat[ed]” into the country’s ethos of gender equality. The 32-year-old Muslim veils her entire body in public except for a narrow slit for the eyes and, for example, rejects the idea of voting, in that such matters should be left entirely to the discretion of her husband and male relatives.
• “The days of the ceramics trade here are numbered,” lamented Francisco Figueriredo, 68, and the specific ceramics trade of his region (Portugal’s Caldas da Rainha) happens to be ornamental penises. For more than 30 years, Figueriredo and his wife have been two of a small number of craftspeople who have shaped and molded various models for export (e.g., mugs with penis extensions, penis-shaped bottles, ceramic soccer figures with penises peeking out from under flags). A July Reuters dispatch attributed the decline to a general loss in the provocativeness of public sexual displays.
• The government of France announced that, starting next year, it will regulate the booming business of country-western line dancing, by, among other measures, requiring licenses of teachers, after 200 hours’ instruction. Inexplicably, at least 100,000 people in the country line dance weekly, and the popularity is growing, according to a May dispatch in The Times of London. A French Dance Federation official said he guesses the preference of line dancing over square dancing is the French preference for no physical contact.
Questionable Judgments: (1) Dr. Frederick Lobati, 47, was charged last year with felony abuse of his daughter in Ozark, Mo., but in June 2008 offered the defense that, being of African heritage, he was merely applying a “konk” (a bare-knuckle punch), which is an acceptable punishment in his culture. (2) In June, the High Court in Johannesburg granted the request by a Chinese civil rights organization to switch Chinese South Africans from “caucasian” (as they were during apartheid) to “black” (which would allow them to better qualify for government benefits).
Scenes of the surreal
(1) The president of Japan’s Osakana Planning Co. told attendees of the Japanese Seafood Show in July that his tuna makes superior sushi because his company administers acupuncture to each fish prior to its death, in order to reduce stress. (2) A Welsh oil painting, “Newport Nude,” which was mothballed 60 years ago for being too brazen for public display because the model is naked, drew fresh criticism when reintroduced in July at a public gallery in Wales but this time only because the naked model is holding a cigarette.
The weirdo-Australian community
Rodney McLagan, 48, acknowledged that a few pornographic images of children might have been among the 31,000 that he had downloaded from the internet, but that he has never had a sexual interest in children. Rather, almost all of the images are of adults having sex with animals. As his lawyer pointed out in court in Hobart, Australia in July, McLagan has such low self-esteem that he considers himself, too, a “beast.” Included in the sex collection were dogs, ponies, snakes, tigers and, in one case, an octopus.
Boston fire inspector Albert Arroyo, on tax-free disability since March (“totally and permanently disabled,” wrote his physician) from an unwitnessed on-the-job injury, apparently heroically overcame his condition and six weeks later finished eighth in the 2008 Pro Natural American bodybuilding championship. Said his lawyer, James Dilday, time in the gym was actually a way for Arroyo to get his mind off his depression at being forced to take early retirement at age 46. (A Boston Globe investigation in January found 102 firefighters with mostly questionable job injuries, taking full retirement, with some manipulating paperwork to retire at a higher grade than when they were “injured.”)
Least competent criminals
In June, police in Spokane, Wash., arrested Calvin Robinson, 19, who had set up inside the lockable family restroom at a mall because he needed an electrical outlet to run the color printer he had just bought for $100 (in real money) in order to make counterfeit $10 bills. Police recovered a sheet of uncut, poorly made copies, which Robinson said he had intended to use to buy “90 dollars” worth of marijuana.
In 2001, News of the Weird noted Hong Kong jeweler Lam Sai-wing’s monument to excess, the solid-gold bathroom (including flushable toilet), built as a tribute to Vladimir Lenin’s critique of capitalism’s wastefulness. (“[W]e shall use gold,” wrote Lenin, “for the purpose of building public lavatories in the streets of some of the largest cities in the world.”) Lam later added more fixtures, furniture and statues to his display, using a total of six tons of 24-carat gold. However, the world economy is different now, as Lam noted in a July Wall Street Journal profile, with gold that cost around $200 an ounce in 1999 now valued at nearly $900. He has decided to begin melting down the entire structure, except for the toilet, that is. “I don’t care if gold hits $10,000 an ounce,” he said. “I’m not melting [that] down.”
The Jesus and Virgin Mary World Tour (all new!)
Recent playdates: Salt Lake City, July (image of Jesus in a three-gallon container of spumoni at an ice cream shop); Salinas, Calif., July (image of Mary in the floor drain of a restaurant undergoing renovation); Monterey, Calif., May (image of Mary in the leg wound of a biker who slid 50 feet along the pavement when he lost control of his motorcycle); Darlington, England, April (image of Jesus in the foil wrapping on a bottle of cider served at the Tanners Hall pub); Lorain, Ohio, April (image of Jesus in a woman’s ultrasound picture); Iowa City, Iowa, May (joint appearance of Jesus and Mary on a plastic bag used to bring home groceries from Wal-Mart).
Copyright 2008 Chuck Shepherd
Distributed by Universal Press Syndicate