News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*Veterinary breakthroughs: In February surgeons in Washington, D.C., removed a cataract from the eye of the National Zoo's six-foot-long Komodo dragon Muffin in hopes that she could better see how studly the male was and thus would mate with him. And in January doctors in Johannesburg, South Africa, performed spinal surgery on a ten-foot-long python that had been run over by a car. *In March Nadean Cool won a settlement of $2.4 million in her lawsuit in Appleton, Wisconsin, against her former psychotherapist, Dr. Kenneth Olson. She claimed he persuaded her that she had multiple-personality disorder (120 personalities, including Satan and a duck) and then billed her insurance company for group therapy because he had to counsel so many people.

Creme de la Weird
*In October the Washington State supreme court reversed on a technicality the conviction of Benjamin R. Hull, who had been found guilty of defrauding the state workers compensation office. Hull admitted that he got a friend to help him blast a hole in his left leg below the knee with a shotgun, but insisted it was not to get compensation (he received $96,000) but because the knee had been so painful to him ever since it was injured in a 1973 accident. (Five years earlier he tried to take the leg off with a chain saw, but it kept malfunctioning.)

*In January an Australian medical journal reported a case of lead poisoning of an electrician who chewed electrical cable to satisfy his nicotine cravings when he was forced to work in no-smoking buildings. The man said he chewed almost a yard of cable a day for nearly ten years because it has a sweet taste, especially near the center.

*In November a man was arrested in Albuquerque on a complaint by his thirteen-year-old stepdaughter that he made her perform a series of bizarre acts, written out on index cards, that were supposed to toughen her up in her quest to get a learner's driving permit. According to the complaint, the girl was allowed to drive his truck until the man turned up an index card with an instruction that she had to follow before continuing to drive. Among other things, the cards called for her to pour shampoo and dirt into her hair, wear a dog collar, do sit-ups, stand naked in the glare of the truck's headlights, and stand tied to a bar with a ball in her mouth.

*Continental Airlines filed a lawsuit in November in Newark against Deborah Loeding, whom the airlines said endangered passengers in order to get revenge on the pilot, her ex-husband. Loeding had baked him some bread laced with marijuana so that he would fail the airline's drug test and get fired. He did; he was. Continental reinstated him when they learned what happened.

*In October a judge in Baton Rouge abruptly called a mistrial in the eight-year-old lawsuit filed by Mary Ann Turner against her ex-husband Alan Ostrowe (an anesthesiologist). The judge declared that her testimony was overly theatrical. According to Turner, when she was hospitalized for surgery in 1972 Ostrowe persuaded the surgeons to remove her clitoral hood; the couple's son said the father needed to "control my mother's sexuality to compensate for his sexual inadequacies."

First Things First
*According to Vladimir Zelentin, who testified in January in New York City against his cousin Rita Gluzman, she planned the murder of her husband and talked Zelentin into being the hit man. But when Zelentin lit up a victory cigarette in her kitchen after the ax slaying, she screamed at him, "No smoking!"

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd