News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*Among the street theater performances at New York City's International Fringe Festival in August: a 45-minute satirical, bigoted rant against hunchbacks from Nebraska; a six-person troupe performing Eugene Ionesco's Bald Soprano play continuously, for a total of 24 times in 24 hours; and "Brown and Blue," an "ode to excrement," celebrating not its dirtiness but, according to the performer, the "simple way it [presents] to look at things."

*About 25 employees of the meticulously maintained Boston Public Library had grown so close to their work that they had to use the city's grief-counseling services in August after a water main burst and flooded a building, soaking 50,000 cartons of books. Said a library executive to a Boston Globe reporter: "It's a process just like when someone dies."

Bottom of the Gene Pool
*Police in Bonita Springs, Florida, charged Randall James Baker, age 45, with aggravated battery in August for shooting his friend Robert Callahan in the head and sending him to the hospital. A sheriff's spokesman said Baker and Callahan had a playful tradition of trying to shoot the button off of the top of any baseball-type cap either of them acquired; this time alcohol played a bigger role than usual.

*In July three men linked to the Republic of Texas separatist group were arrested in Brownsville, Texas, and charged with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction. According to the FBI, their plan was to shoot President Clinton with a modified Bic lighter that would fire a hypodermic needle, out of which would then shoot a cactus thorn that had been dipped into either an anthrax or botulism brew. The attorney for one of the men called the plan so "cockamamie" that the government should not take it seriously.

*Thomas Stanley Huntington, age 52, pleaded no contest to a charge of fraud in Aztec, New Mexico, in June in a scheme to sell "California red superworms," which he swore could eat up nuclear waste. He told buyers (who paid $125 per pound) that a nearby radiation-waste clean-up plant would buy all the worms they could breed.

*In April Hong Kong kitchen worker Yung Kwong-ming, age 34, was ordered into counseling for his ploy of having offered teenage girls free gynecological exams provided they immediately gave him a urine sample and their underpants. Incredibly, he was successful on his first attempt. A second young woman he pulled the scam on called the police, who set up a sting.

*Herb Cruse, age 77, was arrested in Charlotte, North Carolina, in August and charged with extortion against the Carmike Cinema chain for a fanciful scheme in which he claimed to have put his aunt's cremated remains into a popcorn machine at a Carmike outlet and threatened to expose the theater for selling "cannibal corn." After his arrest Cruse told reporters he didn't really do it, but he had put some ordinary ashes into a Carmike popcorn machine several years ago because he was mad at the company.

Recurring Themes
*"News of the Weird" has often reported the convictions of young women who dressed as men (including binding their breasts) in order to date and have sex with (in the dark, obviously) presumably heterosexual women. In June, Angela Marie Hoyle, age 22, was sentenced to six months in jail for her relationship with a fourteen-year-old girl in Gastonia, North Carolina, during which she used a strap-on device to have sex. The girl said, "I [never] had sex, so I thought [this] was normal."

-- By Chuck Shepherd