News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*Since July the Totenko Chinese restaurant in Tokyo has been offering an all-you-can-eat luncheon buffet (that regularly costs sixteen dollars per person) to the first 30 diners each day at the price of about 30 cents per minute, measured by a time clock that diners punch when entering and exiting. Other restaurants have copied the idea in recession-torn Japan, according to a December Wall Street Journal report, and some have found that diners stay longer when alcoholic beverages are included on the per-minute menu.

*Tim Cridland, touring as Zamora the Torture King in an entertainment show in which he endures massive pain, told the Riverfront Times (St. Louis) in December that he broke from the Jim Rose Circus over "artistic differences." Among Zamora's feats: the traditional skewers through the cheeks and neck; swallowing swords and fire; jumping up and down barefoot on broken bottles; and his occasional piece de resistance, swallowing a length of twine, then having it removed from his stomach with a scalpel and forceps during onstage surgery.

*According to police in Lake City, Florida, in November, Felisha Ann Copeland, age 31, on learning that her ex-husband had a new girlfriend, dumped a pot of boiling grits in his lap while he was seated, naked, on the toilet of the home they shared. He suffered severe blistering. And in Middletown, Connecticut, in December, Raquel K. Husman, age 41, was charged with assault for allegedly slashing her ex-boyfriend's scrotum with her fingernails when she discovered him with another woman. He needed 24 stitches.

Latest Highway Truck Spills
*Among the cargo spilled in tractor-trailer accidents in 1998: twenty-five tons of pudding (West Virginia, September); 2000 cases of beer (Michigan, July); four tons of flour (Ontario, August); several tons of noodles, which expanded in the rain (Maryland, July); twenty tons of cheese, which caught fire (Wales, October); $45,000 in quarters (Illinois, June); 50,000 one-dollar bills (Kansas, November); 500,000 honeybees (Washington, October, and another four million in Wisconsin in November); twelve tons of garbage (Rhode Island, March); 6700 gallons of animal fat (Ohio, May); and 20,000 gallons of liquid detergent (elsewhere in Ohio, ten days later).

Life Imitates the Movies
*In September red harvester ants in the soil at the Hanford nuclear complex near Richland, Washington, were found to be radioactive, as were flies and gnats swarming around ordinary garbage at Hanford the following month. Plant managers feared that additional contamination might be spread by mice, insects, and vegetation such as tumbleweeds. (An Associated Press report on Hanford in October reminded readers of the 1954 movie Them!, starring James Arness, in which "huge, marauding ants are spawned by nuclear experiments.")

The Weirdo-American Community
*Tyrone V. Henry, age 26, was arrested in September in Tucson, Arizona, and charged with possession of child pornography. Police said they were led to Henry's home after six female University of Arizona students complained that a man supposedly conducting a test of facial cream used a substance they say tasted like semen. Police, however, said they do not have enough evidence to charge Henry on the face-cream-testing charges.

-- By Chuck Shepherd