news of the weird
More creativealternate-site surgery:Doctors from theUniversity of CaliforniaSan Diego and theUniversity of Washingtonannounced inSeptember that theycould just as wellhandle certain brainsurgeries by accessnot in the traditional way through the top ofthe skull but by drilling holes in the nose and,more recently, the eye socket. (Since classicbrain surgery requires that the top of the skullbe temporarily removed, the breakthroughsmean fewer complications.) These innovationsfollow on the inroads in recent years inperforming kidney-removal and gall-bladdersurgery not by traditional abdominal incisionsbut through, respectively, the vagina and theanus.
The Continuing Crisis
• In a heartwarming climax to an adoptedson’s emotional search for his birth mother(who gave him up for adoption 33 years ago),Richard Lorenc of Kansas managed to trackdown mom Vivian Wheeler, 62, living inBakersfield, Calif., where she is retired — asa circus-sideshow “bearded lady” (the resultof hypertrichosis, also known as “werewolfsyndrome”). Lorenc said he can see theirsimilarities right through Wheeler’s beard,which she keeps now at a length of 11 inches.The relationship was to be confirmed by aDNA test paid for by the “Maury Povich” TVshow, but at press time, the result had not beenannounced.
• At least 13 percent of US teenagers reporthaving intentionally injured themselves ascries for help, and among the more extrememanifestations is “embedding” — the insertionof glass, wood, metal and other material,just under the skin. Writing in the Octoberissue of the journal Radiology, a doctor atNationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus,Ohio, followed up on 11 cases involving 76self-embedded objects in arms, neck, feet andhands, including an astonishing 35 placed byone boy (staples, parts of a comb, parts of afork).
• The older the religion, the seeminglymore likely its practitioners are to adopt cleverworkarounds to theological obligations thatmodern society has rendered inconvenient.Orthodox Jews are among the most creative,as News of the Weird has demonstrated,reporting their imaginative treatments of divorcerituals and expanding the concept of the“home” in which practitioners must remainduring the Sabbath. In September, in preparationfor the Yom Kippur holy day, caffeineaddicts — traditionally hard-hit by the day’sfasting requirement that prohibits ingestinganything “by mouth” — reportedly made arun on drug stores in Jewish neighborhoods inBrooklyn, NY to buy caffeine suppositories.
• A breakthrough in political campaigntechnology: New York gubernatorial candidateCarl Paladino, waging a particularly contentiousbattle, mailed out a flier in Septembersuggesting that Democratic state politiciansare corrupt, with photos of seven of thatparty’s current and recent office-holders andaccompanied by a special odor-triggeringpaper that releases a “garbage-scented” smellwhen exposed to air (and which supposedlygrows even more foul over time).
• Sherin Brown, 23, happened to bewalking through a Brooklyn, NY neighborhoodin August at the exact moment that atractor-trailer accidentally clipped a lightpole, sending it crashing to the sidewalk. Firstresponders found Brown pinned under thepole, screaming for help, and had her taken toa hospital. Afterward, investigators discovereda nearby surveillance camera, which revealedthat Brown had stepped out of the way of thefalling pole but then, with no one else around,had crawled underneath and began wailingin “pain,” perhaps in anticipation of a futurelawsuit.
Least Competent Criminals
• Donald Denney and his father (also namedDonald Denney) concocted a plan on thetelephone for Dad to smuggle the son a ballof black-tar heroin into his Colorado prison(for eventual resale) during visiting hours, tobe passed through the mouth by a deep kissfrom a female visitor. However, Dad couldnot find a woman with a clean-enough recordto be admitted as a visitor. Still enamored ofthe plan, however, the father decided to be thedrug mule, himself, and inserted the packagedheroin into his rectum for later transferral tohis mouth (even though the eventual deep kisswould be awkward). The Denneys were apparentlyunaware, despite audio warnings, that allthe son’s phone calls were being monitored,and in September, prison officials were waitingfor the father, with a body-cavity searchwarrant, as he entered the prison.
‘© 2010 Chuck Shepherd. Universal PressSyndicate !