News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*Former Maryland accountant Scott Lewis Rendelman, age 42, was convicted of emblezzling clients' money in 1986 and sentenced to four months in prison. Lewis has managed to compound that sentence into more than eleven years and counting because he will not stop sending threatening and sexually offensive letters to presidents, judges, prosecutors, and prison officials. In April he was convicted of sending death threats to California Gov. Pete Wilson.

*In March the Oregon Lottery Commission awarded a $124,000 contract to a company for advice about how to best restore its gambling games in case of a catastrophic earthquake or asteroid collision; one goal is to have video poker back up within two hours of a disaster. Several critics suggested there might be more pressing problems after an earthquake, but the commission pointed out that gambling generates one million dollars a day.

Organ of the Week
*In February, according to Kenya's largest newspaper, the Nation, a Nairobi physician who had removed a bean from a young girl's ear jammed it back in when her parents couldn't pay for the six-dollar procedure. And in February burglar Calvin Sewell became the first person in the United Kingdom to be convicted with the help of his earprint. He claimed he had an extraordinary ability to detect if a house was empty just by pressing his ear to a door for a few minutes.

Further Evidence That Women Are Smarter
*In March, near Canyon, Texas, justice of the peace E. Jay Hall said he found what "did appear to be a [human] fetus" with a severed umbilical cord, five to six months postconception, floating in a pool of water. He ordered that it be placed in a Styrofoam container and taken to Lubbock for an autopsy. Pathologists reported that it was a doll.

Performance-Enhancing Substances
*In March in Chicago, Bears' 290-pound defensive lineman Alonzo Spellman barricaded himself in the home of his publicist for eight hours until he told police he would agree to hospitalization. Police said Spellman was distraught about having to take an NFL-mandated steroid test. And in October an Indonesian runner named Ruwiyati won the women's marathon in the Southeast Asia Games and promptly told reporters in Jakarta that the secret to her success is that she drinks blood from her coach's finger before each race. Said coach Alwi Mugiyanto, "I don't know why. She just insists on doing it."

*In March Don Graham asked a technician to look at the cassette recorder he bought at a Bountiful, Utah, store; the buttons wouldn't stay down. Turns out that four pounds of cocaine had been wrapped in a two-year-old Miami-area newspaper and duct-taped to the inside, jamming the buttons.

*Latest mistaken address with mortifying consequences: Drug-raiding police used a battering ram on the wrong Bronx apartment in March, horribly frightening a grandmother and her grandchild. The real target was the "farthest [apartment] on the left," not the "first" on the left. The error will probably result in a $30 million lawsuit.

*When Virginia Broache got home from the Bon Secours St. Mary's Hospital in Richmond last January after having had her cancerous bladder removed, her nurse was unpacking for her and discovered that among the "personal effects" the hospital sent home with her was her bag-enclosed bladder.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd