News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*Sweden's Social Democrat party and England's Vegetarian Society released controversial erotic video ads in August. The Swedish commercial was shot by the party's youth wing and featured a young couple in bed discussing how cool their "first time" was (meaning, first time voting). In the English spot, phallic-shaped chilies, asparaguses, and hands fondling melons were used to try to overcome an image that the vegetarian diet is boring.

*In July Jonathan Balester sued Hottle's Restaurant in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, where he used to dine four times a week but which recently barred him from the premises because of messes he made in the men's room. Balester claims protection under the Americans With Disabilities Act because he has "achalasia," a muscle disorder that is said to prevent food from getting from the esophagus to the stomach. To relax the esophagus, Balester would drink cocktails before dinner and sometimes he still had to regurgitate his food. Occasionally, he admitted, he did not make it to the toilet.

Lift Those Voices in Song
*Buddhist monk Kong Bunchhoeun, age 22, was expelled from his temple in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in August after he was charged with stabbing a student who had complained about his singing at a karaoke bar. He fared better than Ely Dignadice, age 29, who sang the popular Philippines love song "Remember Me" so badly at a Manila karaoke bar in July that a group of men stabbed him to death after the show.

Passive-Aggressive Cheats
*In August the Scottish tribunal that regulates lawyers disciplined Kenneth Anderson because he, being so "anxious to please his clients," routinely told them he had won their cases for them when he had not and in several cases dipped into his own wallet to pay divorcees alimony judgments he said they had won but which they had not. And in Clearwater, Florida, in August, former organ salesman Jeffrey Snyder, who had pleaded guilty to defrauding customers of Fletcher Music Company, was revealed by the prosecutor to have been making $63,000 in monthly organ payments out of his own pocket for some of his victims.

The Litigious Society
*A pretrial hearing was held in June in Lincoln, Nebraska, in the lawsuit filed by Doug and Sharon Detmer against Dawn Bixler that seeks $11,000 in medical expenses plus pain and suffering damages. The Detmers are suing because their daughter Leanne, age sixteen, got pregnant while dating Bixler's son, Dallas, also age sixteen, and that somehow Bixler should have known the couple was having sex and should have stopped them.

*In August a British Columbia court ruled against Maria Tomczyk, who sued the government when she broke her wrist after tripping over a rock in a park near Victoria in 1995. The court found that Tomczyk had seen the large rock earlier in the day, had tried to move it, couldn't, and then tripped over it walking in the dark while carrying a flashlight that wasn't turned on.

*USA Today reported that a North Carolina appeals court dismissed Susan McNeally's lawsuit against Campbell's Soup in January. McNeally claimed she had become sick after eating a can of condensed chicken noodle soup because she did not know she had to add water.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd