News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*Among the exhibits at the "Impulse to Collect" show at San Jose State University in February were Chris Daubert's Chromatic Extrusions Rodenta (the droppings of rats that had ingested oil paints), Maryly Snow's collection of 696 toothbrushes (each catalogued for thirteen attributes), and Bob Rasmussen's assembly of items containing red Xs. Among the exhibits rejected were a huge mass of dryer lint, an assortment of cat snot on slides, and a fifteen-year collection of umbilical cords. Said organizer Theta Belcher, on what makes a real collector: "They take it one step too far."

*In May 1997 Dalton, Georgia, juror Jim Thomas, age 69, voted with his colleagues to convict Wayne Cservak of child molesting, but he soon had second thoughts and spent his own money for a lawyer to handle Cservak's appeal. The victim then admitted he had lied about Cservak, and in December the case was dismissed. Cservak's lawyer said Thomas's deed was "unheard-of, not only in Georgia legal history but in the entire American legal history." Not quite. In January the Connecticut Supreme Court heard arguments on the appeal of convicted murderer Adrian Santiago, funded by $12,000 so far from the life savings of regretful juror June Briere.

*Road rage gets all the attention, but more rages are coming to prominence: prepay rage, Albuquerque, New Mexico, January (a man wanted to pump his gas before he paid; he fired several gunshots into the clerk's car); late-fee rage, McLean, Virginia, January (former State Department lawyer was not allowed to rent a movie until he had settled an old late fee; he ran down the store owner with his car, knocking him through the window of a nearby restaurant); rain rage, Los Angeles, February (as two men passed in the rain, their umbrellas accidentally touched; one man aimed his umbrella at the other's face and thrust the tip through his eye, piercing his brain, sending him to the hospital in critical condition).

Latest Religious Message
*An August Associated Press report described the success of fiery ten-year-old traveling Baptist preacher Johnny Brown. According to his mother, the boy became inspired at age four during services one Saturday in Georgetown, South Carolina, announcing "Mama, the Lord told me to get up and say something." Mrs. Brown said she tried to keep the child pinned in the pew but he wiggled free, walked to the pulpit, and asked for the floor, at which point he began singing the hymn "Down at the Cross," setting the congregation abuzz. His travel dates are booked solid at churches as far away as New York.

*Local prosecutor (described by the Boston Globe as "a rising star") William Charles McCallum of Brentwood, New Hampshire, was sentenced to three to six years in prison in February for theft. He had confessed to stealing numerous home and office furnishings, ranging from nineteenth-century paintings to leather-bound books to the trousers he was wearing the day his trial opened. McCallum introduced testimony that he was a hopeless kleptomaniac, but prosecutors thought he was faking.

*Dutchman Peter Konings, age 38, who had already been scheduled for deportation from England, was convicted in London in January of six counts of buttocks fondling. All incidents involved Konings sticking his toe through a gap in the seat in front of him on the No. 21 Nottingham-Stapleford bus and annoying whatever woman happened to be sitting there.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd