[NEWS OF THE WEIRD]
LANGUAGE OF LOVE
People advertising for love interests via online dating sites have apparently become picky about how they describe their sexuality. To the usuals (male, female, gay, heterosexual) have been added recently (as reported by NPR in December after surveying OkCupid.com) “asexual,” “androgynous,” “genderqueer” (evidently not the same as “gay”), “queer” (not quite “gay,” either), “questioning,” “trans man,” “transsexual,” “transmasculine,” “heteroflexible” and “sapiosexual” (turned on by “intelligence”). Still, some users of the site found the choices inadequate. One young woman described her sexual orientation as “squiggly,” and the reporter cited others who thought highly of that term.
— Britain’s Home Office revealed in November (by releasing archived documents from 1982) that among the contingency suggestions for worst-case nuclear attack on the country was commissioning “psychopaths” to help keep order. They are “very good in crises,” an advocate wrote, because “they have no feelings for others, nor moral code, and tend to be very intelligent and logical,” and thus could do quite well at containing the vigilante survivalist enclaves that might develop in the event parts of the kingdom became lawless. (After an apparently thoughtful debate, the suggestion was not agreed to.)
— Great Art! At a recent art show at Paris’ Palais de Tokyo, Italian artist Sven Sachsalber, for his provocative piece, brought in a large haystack on Nov. 13, dropped a needle into it, and gave himself two days to find it. Late the next day, he picked it up. (Palais de Tokyo calls itself an “anti-museum par excellence.”)
— (1) Three homes on the Pacific Ocean near Grayland, Washington, were washed away by violent rainstorms in early December, but the residents had seen it coming. The longtime local name for the area is “Washaway Beach.” Said one, “I knew it was going to happen sooner or later, but I had hoped it wasn’t this soon.” (2) In November, an airline’s advertising staff created the catchy slogan (to attract impulse travelers), “Want to go somewhere, but don’t know where?” and convinced management to send it, via Twitter, to the airline’s thousands of followers. (Spoiler: The airline was Malaysia Airlines, whose Flight 370 still has not been found.)
— Hide the Show Program Inside the Porn: A theatrical producer in Madrid found a way around Spain’s recent steep sales tax increase on certain entertainment venues (sports, movies, live theater): It sold back issues of vintage pornographic magazines for the equivalent of $20 — with a “free” ticket to its latest stage production by noted director Pedro Calderon de la Barca. (A show ticket would carry a 21 percent tax, but a pornographic magazine is still taxed at 4 percent.)
— Creative: Eric Opitz, 45, who was indicted on 13 counts of fraud in Philadelphia in October, had explained that the reason he needed human growth hormone (that he would resell) despite being 6-foot-3, 450 pounds, was that he was really a dwarf and feared he would recede if he stopped the medication.
— Bungling Cinematograhers: Zak Hardy, 18, and Terrill Stoltz, 41, were arrested recently in separate incidents and charged with photographing women in bathrooms without their permission. Hardy, caught in a public restroom in June in Exeter, England, pointing his phone from one stall to another, explained that he was just trying to see whether his phone was waterproof. Stoltz professed his innocence, as well, claiming the camera he set up in his ex-girlfriend’s bathroom in Billings, Montana, was solely to have a photographic record of him when he cleaned his chickens in the bathtub.
THE NEW NORMAL
An Oceanside, California, couple was surprised in November to discover that buying a purebred bichon frise on credit meant they were only leasing the dog for 27 months and would have to make a 28th payment to actually “own” Tresor. Furthermore, the lease, under a “repo” threat, required “daily exercise,” “regular bathing and grooming” and “immediate” disposal of Tresor’s “waste.” A spokesperson for the store, Oceanside Puppy (which works with four finance companies), told the San Diego Union- Tribune that the arrangement is fairly standard now for expensive pets.
(1) NBC’s “Today” show reported in December the “heartbreak” parents are feeling when they learn that the supposedly unique name (“wonderful, distinctive, rarely heard”) they had given their infant in the last year or two (e.g., “Mason,” “Liam,” “Lily”) actually appeared on BabyCenter’s annual list of most popular names of 2014 (6th, 3rd and 8th, respectively). (2) After hearing tenants’ complaints, the New York City Council is now considering a regulation requiring landlords to post notices if a common area or amenity is unusable for 24 hours or more — which applies of course to elevators and laundry rooms, but would also extend to any air hockey or foosball facilities in the building.
Although elephants, rhesus monkeys, cobras, cows and water buffalos are regarded as sacred by many of India’s Hindus, the animals most certainly do not live idyllic lives, according to a November BBC News dispatch. As “growing populations are swallowing up habitat,” the divine symbols are forced to the cities, where they must dodge traffic, forage garbage for food, and endanger themselves encountering people less certain of their holiness (such as in the November report of the cobra harassing customers at an ATM in Delhi). As representatives of Lord Ganesha, elephants live well only during religious festivals, but otherwise must navigate asphalt and potholes that tear up their hooves. In another November incident, some Hindu leaders protested a drive to kill rats that had infested the Maharaja Yeshwantrao hospital in Indore — because Ganesha was depicted riding a mouse.
— In a 2012 incident in Cleveland (where a white police officer recently shot to death a black teenager holding a toy gun), 13 officers chased two unarmed black homeless drug users at high speeds and fired 137 shots at the pair, killing them. (A car had supposedly backfired, suggesting a gunshot at the cops.) As a result of “communication” failure, the 13 were placed on limited “desk duty” for 16 months and subjected to continuing investigation. Recently, nine of the 13 officers sued the city, charging that non-black officers are historically and illegally disciplined more harshly for mistakes when victims are black.
— Big Crime: (1) Four officers responded in Tayport, Scotland, in July to arrest Irene Clark, 65, who spent 48 hours in jail — after committing the crime of swatting her husband with a magazine while arguing over TV programs (causing a paper cut). (2) Christopher Saunders, 38, pleaded guilty in North Devon, England, in November to possession of 0.09 grams of marijuana (value: 14 cents). (3) Keith Shannon, 44, was sentenced (two years’ probation) in Letterkenny, Ireland, in November for twice being caught swiping “tester” packets of aftershave at a Boots store (value: 2 cents each).
A NEWS OF THE WEIRD CLASSIC (FEBRUARY 2011)
The ear has a “G-spot,” explained Santa Clara, California, ear, nose and throat surgeon Todd Dray, and thus the moans of ecstasy that Vietnamese “ear pickers” reportedly elicit from their clients might well be justified. A San Jose Mercury News reporter, dispatched to Ho Chi Minh City in January (2011) to check it out, learned that barber shop technicians could sometimes coax “eargasms” (as they removed wax) by tickling a certain spot next to the ear drum served by multiple nerve endings and tissue paper-thin skin. Said one female client, “Everybody is afraid the first time, but after, it’s, ‘Oh my God!’” Said one Vietnamese man, returning home after a trip abroad, and who went immediately from the airport to a “hot toc” parlor for a picking, “(This) brings a lot of happiness.”
Thanks This Week to Kev of abroath.blogspot.com, and Christine Van Lenten, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors. !
© 2014 Chuck Shepherd. Universal Press Syndicate.