News of the Weird

Lead Story
*A University of California professor's request to see FBI records on Groucho Marx was granted in September. Included in the records were reports of Marx's friendships with other liberal Hollywood types and public quotes by Marx critical of the United States, some obviously made just for laughs. Despite the fact that Marx has been dead for twenty years, several pages of his file remain secret, according to the government, "in the interest of national defense or foreign policy."

Life Imitates the Three Stooges
*In August in Thunder Bay, Ontario, a 48-year-old woman was hospitalized after she tumbled from a third-story window while leaning out to shake the dust from a rug. And in September, the curator of the Baroda, India museum discovered that an attendant had accidentally vacuumed parts of a 3000-year-old mummy.

Punishment Fits the Crime
*In May India's defense minister George Fernandes ordered three bureaucrats from his finance office to spend a week on the notorious Siachen Glacier in Kashmir, where temperatures are usually below zero and wind speeds average 60 mph. The bureaucrats had taken three years to process the paperwork to procure snowmobiles for the glacier, and the minister said the men needed to understand why they should have worked faster.

Least Competent Criminals
*Forty-nine-year-old William S. Burress collapsed and died in Cincinnati in October, minutes after he had lowered himself to the street from a second-story window in the Hamilton County jail, where he had been held on robbery charges. Burress's twenty-foot-long bedsheet rope broke in half, causing him to fall to the sidewalk. A worker inside the jail said he heard a loud smack on the concrete and someone moaning, "Oh, my head."

Recurring Themes
*Phoenix body-modifier Steve Haworth, last mentioned in a 1993 News of the Weird when he was just getting started in the business and had begun to offer skin branding (with a genuine branding iron), is now servicing his 450th customer according to a U. magazine story from September. He says his most exciting service now involves implanting beads and spikes just below the surface of the skin to achieve a 3-D effect.

Killed by Their Best Friends
*In September in Orinda, California, Michael Trevethan, age 42, was crushed to death against a fence post by his truck, which had been accidentally knocked into gear by his dog. And in Milwaukee, John Hwilka accidentally shot himself to death when, while showing his mother how to use a .45-caliber handgun, his pet French poodle jumped into his lap and jarred his hand.

Latest Religious Messages Received
*In August in Calgary, Alberta, Josh Hempel, age sixteen, was struck by lightning shortly after ending an argument by inviting God to strike him with a bolt from the sky if he was wrong. He was hospitalized, but recovered. And in June at the Bathgate Golf Club in West Lothian, Scotland, Father Alex Davie was playing in the Clergy Golfing Society tournament when lightning first struck the tip of his umbrella and then, a few minutes later, the tree under which he had sought refuge. He suffered a sore arm but was not deterred from completing his round.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd