News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*A man whose name was not released checked in to a motel in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, on July 15 for two days and left behind twelve jars' worth of Vaseline smeared on the carpet, furniture, curtains, walls, bedspreads, sheets, and towels, necessitating a $1300 cleanup. No motive was apparent, and police have been unable to find him.

*In August Ukrainian Prime Minister Valery Pustovoitenko began a crackdown on tax delinquents to collect the $3.5 billion they owe. The strategy is to force the top 1500 tax scofflaws, mostly business executives, to a military base near Kiev to live in tents and to listen to lectures on civil defense preparedness for natural disasters until, out of sheer boredom, they decide to pay up.

*The notorious Japanese game show Super Jockey (which features stunts such as contestants eating repulsive-flavored ice cream) recently began selling commercial time on the show by inviting potential sponsors to bring bikini-clad women who would be dunked in scalding water. The companies would then be rewarded with commercial time equivalent to the number of seconds the women could endure the pain.

Spit, Please
*In July the Tennessee Supreme Court reinstated patient Frances Blanchard's lawsuit against Memphis dentist Arlene Kellum. Kellum allegedly committed battery by attempting to pull out all 32 of the woman's teeth in one sitting. (Blanchard, who has a gum disease, said she thought it would be done over several visits.) Kellum had already removed half of the teeth when Blanchard fainted and had to be hospitalized for six days. And a jury in Oklahoma City awarded $1.3 million to Mark Macsenti in June for brain damage he suffered when dentist Jon D. Becker fell asleep during an appointment and left Macsenti hooked up to nitrous oxide for approximately ten hours.

Let Us Pray
*Georgia State Sen. Ralph David Abernathy III, son of the late civil rights leader, announced his retirement from politics in July after his $400 re-election filing-fee check bounced. His legislative career was marred by incidents in which he followed a woman into a state capitol ladies' room and in which he was caught with marijuana in his underwear at the Atlanta airport. He said he plans to enter a seminary.

Courtroom Follies
*Convicted killer Robert Hunt lost his appeal to the Nebraska Supreme Court in June. In his closing argument at trial, Hunt's lawyer, in an effort to gain the jury's sympathy, called him a "creepy, slimy, sexual degenerate." Hunt complained that the strategy had obviously backfired, since he received a life sentence. The supreme court said Hunt would probably have been convicted anyway (but took no position on whether the lawyer's statement was accurate).

*In July Diane Parker accompanied her husband Richard (who had been accused of drug trafficking) to federal court in Los Angeles. According to friends, Diane was so supportive that she had come prepared to put up her investment property and her mother's townhouse to make Richard's bail. When the prosecutor began reciting to the judge facts about Richard's double life, which included a mistress and a safe house, Diane's expression changed dramatically. She removed her wedding ring with a flourish, walked out of court, drove to the Orange County office where the mistress worked, and punched her several times.

-- By Chuck Shepherd