News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*According to an April New York Times report, the purchase price of giant stag beetles in Japan has dropped recently to about $300 from the early-1990s price of about $6000. The beetles, which resemble four-inch-long cockroaches, are traditional Japanese pets that, according to insect salesman Katsutoshi Misaki, "have different personalities." Added Misaki: "When I hold it in my hand, I feel real affection for it." One breeder said a rare pet beetle sold in 1993 for about $30,000.

*Recently retired U.S. Air Force Sgt. Charles O. Hamilton, Jr., was arrested in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, in March for allegedly attempting to enter a toddler's bedroom at night. Police believe Hamilton is the serial burglar who sneaks into houses at night, sometimes wearing a diaper under his pants, to observe and photograph young boys sleeping, sometimes after deftly removing their shorts and dressing them in diapers. A storage locker belonging to Hamilton contained photos of his peeping handiwork, along with about 1000 diapers, some of them soiled, many with boys' names on them with photographs inside showing the named boy wearing the diaper.

The Litigious Society
*Lucia Kaiser filed a lawsuit in February against the Ohm restaurant in New York City, claiming her 400-guest birthday party there in December (among the guests, Harry Belafonte and Quincy Jones) did not meet her expectations. The restaurant owner said the party was lovely and he fully complied with the contract, but Kaiser said she was so unfulfilled that she wants $30 million in damages.

*In Belleville, Illinois, Rochelle Chouinard sued booking agent Patricia Neuf for $227 for failing to supply a satisfactory stripper for her husband's 50th birthday party. Chouinard said she specifically asked for a woman with at least a 40-inch chest and who would do a nurselike act, but received what she estimated to be a woman with a size 36A chest who merely did a traditional striptease. In February a judge tossed out Chouinard's lawsuit.

*In Edwardsville, Illinois, in February, Joseph Schrage filed a lawsuit against a local Pizza Hut for the "mental anguish" caused when he received a bad pizza one night in 1997. He said he became ill after eating the pizza, but he offered no proof when he made his initial claim against the company. The Pizza Hut manager said Schrage's experience hasn't driven him away: "He's still a regular customer. He comes in about twice a week."

*In November in Lake St. Croix Beach, Minnesota, firefighters assisted a thirteen-year-old boy who had gotten his lip stuck in an eggbeater. And in Taipei, Taiwan, in February, doctors removed a chopstick from the eye socket of Japanese tourist Satoshi Kinoshida; it had penetrated more than an inch. And in December firefighters in Gosport, England, were called to a home to extricate teacher John Gueran, age 42, who had become stuck headfirst with, according to London's Daily Telegraph, his "backside in the air," behind a pantry trying to retrieve his son's Christmas gift.

*Latest Highway Truck Spills: 36 tons of Tootsie Rolls, Charm's Blow Pops, and other candy, near downtown Nashville, Tennessee, January; thousands of surgical scalpels, scattered over a half-mile stretch of Route 10 near Walton, New York, January; and eight million dimes near Gore, Oklahoma, from a truck en route from the Denver mint to the Federal Reserve Bank in Little Rock, Arkansas, March.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd