News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*On July 1 in South River, New Jersey, Yugoslavian Americans Boris Angelevski and his wife and 31-year-old son, after fighting among themselves about the son's having become too Americanized, threatened police and barricaded themselves inside their apartment for eleven hours before giving up. Police knew the apartment well because of previous domestic disturbances. The floors and walls were lined with aluminum foil that, according to Boris, was supposed to keep out "moonbeams and rays from the outer planets."

*Sports idiots run wild: More than 100 fans supporting their World Cup soccer teams and 35 police officers were injured in riots in France. On the other hand, during Japan's World Cup loss to Argentina, the team's fans were so tidy they left almost nothing for janitors to clean; in fact, many Japanese fans had even brought their own garbage bags.

*The current issue of Maxim magazine profiles Las Vegas gambler Brian Zembic, age 37, who earned $100,000 on a dare from a colleague by getting breast implants and leaving them in for a full year. According to the article, he still has not taken them out. Zembic said, "Having breasts gives you insight into what life is like for women. You start to see what pigs men are."

Thoroughly Unshakable Belief
*In May the Catholic diocese of Dodge City, Kansas, eager to explain a Lewis, Kansas, woman's Virgin Mary plaque that she says weeps blood (and has drawn 10,000 visitors), commissioned DNA tests of the blood and found it to be that of the plaque's owner, Margarita Holguin Cazares. Cathy Woolard, editor of the local newspaper, editorialized that the DNA tests actually make the phenomenon even more miraculous, in that God must have created blood that exactly matches Cazares's and put it on the plaque.

Least Competent Police Chiefs
*In June Chief Thomas O'Brien of Scotch Plains, New Jersey, fined himself for accidentally leaving his gun in a department-store dressing room while he tried on clothes; another shopper found it and, thinking it was a toy, played with it until it went off. And three weeks earlier Chief Richard Williams of Madison, Wisconsin, suspended himself for leaving his gun in the microwave oven at his home, where he sometimes hid it. The next day he absent-mindedly started roasting a turkey; a bullet tore through the door and into a banister.

Weird Workplace
*As of early June, more than 500 people had applied for a vacancy as the official executioner in Swaziland. The job needs filling because a man was convicted in March of the ritual murder of a nine-year-old boy and was condemned to death. The justice minister said he is an equal opportunity employer and advertised for a "hangperson."

Least Competent Criminals
*Jason Ennis, age 21, was arrested at the airport in Hartford, Connecticut, in June shortly after arriving from Chicago. Ennis (or whoever packed the suitcase, he claimed) had stuffed far more into the bag than it could reasonably carry, and it broke open as baggage handlers were unloading the airplane, revealing about 40 pounds of marijuana in plastic bags. Officials crammed everything back in again and waited to see who claimed it. As Ennis started to haul the suitcase away, it broke open again. Ennis was on the floor trying to get everything back in when police approached him.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd