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news of the weird

by Chuck Shepherd

GPS NAVIGATOR USERS

In a world of advancing technology and declining map-reading skills, some GPS navigator users blindly over-rely on the devices, and News of the Weird has reported enough of their predicaments to mark the category “no longer weird.” However, three Japanese students on holiday near Brisbane, Australia in March created a new standard for ignoring common sense. Bound for North Stradbroke Island (about eight miles offshore), the driver (according to authorities cited by the local Bayside Bulletin) apparently put maps and eyesight aside, in favor of the all-powerful Navigator, which had instructed him to proceed. As news spread on the internet, photographers rushed to capture the car, half-buried in sand. (In the students’ defense, the beach seemed to extend to the horizon at low tide — although the word “island” might have deserved more respect.)

The Continuing Crisis

• The entire village (almost!) of Sodeto, Spain shared the grand prize in the country’s huge Christmas lottery in December, earning each of the 70 households the equivalent of at least $130,000. The joint buy-in of tickets is a town ritual, but one resident missed the canvassing: filmmaker Costis Mitsotakis, who said he was happy that everyone else was happy. (The dark side of winning: Hucksters flooded the town from all over the country.)

• The town of Betws-y-Coed, Wales holds the distinction of having its name likely butchered by more misspellings on internet search inquiries than any other. Website managers told BBC News in February that they have compiled a list of 364 different spellings from people ostensibly looking for the town. The most common references were to “Bwtsy Code” and “Betsy Cowed.”

• Anthony McDaniel, 47, voluntarily returned to North Carolina from his new home in Texas in February after being charged with embezzlement by his old employer. The owner of Fayetteville’s Skibo Skillet (now out of business) accused Mc- Daniel of having pocketed meatballs, corn on the cob and anchovy dip while he worked there.

• Make yourselves at home: (1) Keith Davis, 46, was caught red-handed in Ashley Murray’s house in South Bend, Ind. in February and charged with burglary. Murray, though, said she had mixed feelings because, while there, Davis had folded Murray’s clothes and vacuumed the house. (Police said that some drug or other had made Davis believe he was in his own home.) (2) Officials at the county courthouse in Charlotte, N.C., were startled to learn in January that Paul Frizzell, 30, had commandeered a vacant office in the building and for two months had been running his business out of it (with telephone, copy machine and bulletin board, among other trappings).

Family Values

• What Christmas gift would be appropriate for the 7-year-old daughter of Britain’s notorious specimen of plastic surgery known as the “Human Barbie”? For little “Poppy” Burge, it was a gift certificate worth the equivalent of about $11,000 for future liposuction (redeemable beginning at age 18). Mom Sarah had already given her a voucher for breast augmentation. (Poppy, developing her early-onset need for attention: “I can’t wait to be like Mummy with big boobs. They’re pretty.”) Mom, who recently turned 51, celebrated with about $80,000 worth of additional plastic surgery to run her lifetime total to the equivalent of (depending on source consulted) $800,000 to $1 million.

• Sheriff’s detectives told the Everett, Wash. Daily Herald in January that they had recently tracked down a 21-year-old man who confessed to stealing checks from the Money Tree store in Lynnwood, Wash. and forging signatures. According to the detectives, the man was clear about his motive: “I don’t have an addiction. I don’t need to use drugs. I [was] doing this to show my parents that I can make it on my own, without them.”

Wisconsinites, Doing It the Hard Way

In October, Robbie Suhr, 48, of Pleasant Prairie, Wis., sought the affections of the young exchange student living with Suhr and his wife and children, but she had so far declined. According to police, a disguised Suhr snatched the woman one night, intending to tie her up, leave and then return undisguised to “rescue” her. However, she fought back, sending the masked man fleeing. (Suhr got off easier than Jordan Cardella, 20, of Milwaukee did several months earlier. To win back his girlfriend, Cardella convinced a buddy to shoot him, hoping for the girlfriend’s sympathy and a change of heart. Although he requested three shots in the back, he wisely settled for one in the arm. Alas, the girlfriend continued to ignore him.)

It’s Everywhere!

(1) Two ministers in the Indian state of Karnataka were pressured into resigning in February after allegedly being spotted watching pornography on a cellphone in the state legislature. Minister Laxman Savadi said he was actually doing research on the dangers of “rave” parties.

(2) A 54-year-old court clerk at Inner London Crown Court was caught by his judge looking at pornography during the victim’s testimony at a notorious rape trial. He said he was just “bored” and admitted previously browsing porn in court.

People With Issues

Now in its third season, the TLC cable channel’s series “My Strange Addiction” continues to raise the bar for News of the Weird stories. This season’s highlights include the man sexually attracted to his car, plus women who surround themselves with mothballs or eat cat food or drink nail polish or dig into their ears or eat adhesive tape. In one episode, “Ayanna,” 54, who has not cut her fingernails in three decades, reports that she has recently been cultivating her toenails, which are now 4 inches long and hampering her use of shoes. Another episode this season features Sheyla Hershey, mentioned in News of the Weird four weeks ago after she credited her gigantic breast implants with cushioning her body during a recent car crash.

Least Competent Criminals

One of the largest methamphetamine busts in US history was made in March by police in Palo Alto, Calif. who used the popular Find-My-iPad app. Apparently, someone at the drug house had stolen the iPad, and police turned on the owner’s global-positioning “app,” pointing to an apartment complex in Santa Clara County. Almost 800 pounds of meth was confiscated, with a street value of about $35 million. Said the father of the iPad owner, “They have $35 million, and they can’t go out and buy an iPad?”

Recurring Themes

News of the Weird reported in 2006 and 2008 on precocious 5-year-old boys who, according to their parents, were certain they wanted to live the rest of their lives as girls (that is, were not just “going through a phase”). In Essex, England, recently, Zach Avery, then 4, made British medical history when the National Health Service diagnosed him with gender identity disorder and endorsed his desire to live as a girl. Zach was so unhappy as a boy that he once tried to dismember himself.

© 2012 Chuck Shepherd. Universal Press Syndicate

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