News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*The November Canadian Finals Rodeo in Edmonton, Alberta, featured the very popular "Cowboy Poker," in which four men sit at a table in the middle of the arena "playing cards," while a particularly aggressive bull is turned loose. As the bull rushes them, the last cowboy to stay seated wins the pot (around $300). In one match the bull reduced a table to splinters, but two cowboys stayed seated.

*In September Don and Penny Karch set up 28 toilets in their back yard in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, to object to an adjacent, restroomless convenience store, behind which patrons in need were occasionally relieving themselves in full view of the Karches' kitchen window. And Edward Aragi dragged a dead deer into a People's Bank branch in Stamford, Connecticut, in November to get employees' attention about an alleged clerical error on a bounced check. And Levent Kirca, Turkey's Jay Leno, went on a hunger strike in November after the government sacked his TV show because he'd made fun of an official who flaunted her virginity.

It's a Profession
*Christine Bergmann, minister of women in Germany's new Schroeder administration, said in November she would soon submit a bill calling for health, retirement, and unemployment benefits for prostitutes, and providing them with the legal right to sue johns for unpaid bills, adding that prostitutes should receive full retirement benefits by age 60. And in stark contrast to the strict no-prostitution policy of the Mao Tse Tung era, Shenyang, China, recently began acknowledging its city's estimated 100,000 prostitutes ... by taxing them.

Y2K Blues
*In November Roland Dougoud, age 105, received a letter from his local government in Echallens, Switzerland, demanding he register for school, along with 65 kids also born in '93. And in November Rev. Jerry Falwell said he welcomes problems and shutdowns that might occur due to computers misprocessing the year 2000 because it "may be God's instrument to shake this nation" into religion.

*Three days after the November election, someone called in a bomb threat to Minnesota's capitol during Gov-elect Jesse Ventura's visit. Police found a suspicious object taped to a tree on the grounds. The object was given full bomb-squad treatment and driven very carefully to a disposal facility. Despite all the precautions, though, a wind gust blew the package out of the bomb-squad truck and onto the street, where it was run over by several cars.

*In November in the final moments of West Virginia's at home 35-28 football win over Syracuse, state troopers attempted to protect the WVU marching band from fans celebrating so boisterously that they posed a physical threat to band members and their instruments. Troopers fired mace to disperse unruly fans, but breezes blew the mace in the direction of the marching band, causing widespread vomiting among band members and sending six of them to the hospital.

Everyone Needs a Hobby
*Shawn Padden, age 24, was convicted of manslaughter in November for his role in the death of an eighteen-year-old friend. Acquaintances of the two men said Padden and his friend's hobby was "hanging" (as in, by the neck) and they practiced it frequently until January 5, 1998, when Padden accidentally pulled the chair away from his friend, whose hands were tied, before he was ready.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Chuck Shepherd