News of the Weird

Lead Story
*Three fishless bass-fishing tournaments were held last winter with anglers casting lines into indoor swimming pools and a computer determining whether the bait had struck water where a fish was. Dave Beuckman, publisher of a tournament fishing magazine, held the contests in Kansas City, Missouri; Louisville, Kentucky; and Collinsville, Illinois, stocking "lakes" with thousands of imaginary fish of varying sizes. After the anglers finished their turns, said Beuckman, they still "talked about the fish that got away."

Can't Possibly Be True
*In July the Hanover Park, Illinois, Village Board raised property taxes five percent for the next fifteen years solely to pay off a $7.2 million judgment against the village for a 1988 traffic accident. Driver Thomas Redlin was injured by an abutment on the road that he said should have carried a warning sign; he won his lawsuit despite the fact that he did not have a proper license and had been drinking.

*A University of Michigan School of Nursing study, published in June, reported that almost half of the fifth-graders at two low-income schools in Milwaukee reported having had sexual intercourse, compared to six percent who smoked cigarettes and three percent who drank alcoholic beverages.

Compelling Explanations
*In April in Providence, Rhode Island, Anthony "The Saint" St. Laurent, Sr., pleaded guilty to an organized-crime charge and received a ten-month prison sentence. He said he pleaded guilty only because an intestinal illness would have made it impractical for him to sit through a lengthy trial: "How can I go to trial with [the 40 to 50 daily] enemas I got to take?"

*Kentucky Ku Klux Klan leader and grandmother Velma Seats, asked by a New Yorker writer for a March story why she wasn't wearing her robe that day: "We've had a lot of events lately," she said. "The cleaning bills will kill you."

*In February escaped Tennessee inmate James Sean Stuart, age 30, was captured on Interstate 65 near Athens, Alabama, after evading dozens of police officers at speeds up to 155 mph. Stuart told police he had wanted to turn himself in; he was driving fast because he "wanted to get far enough ahead so there wouldn't be any questions" that he was giving up on his own.

Animal Weirdness
*Roosevelt and Linda Matthews of New Bern, North Carolina, credit their dog Roc with awakening them by ringing the doorbell at 4:00 a.m. after lightning started a fire in their house in June. (Roc had not been trained to do it, but the couple said he had rung the doorbell once before.) And Tipper, a cat belonging to Gail Curtis of Tampa, Florida, was rescued in July while choking on his flea collar; in the struggle, he knocked the telephone off a table and accidentally hit the speed-dial button for 911.

*The newspaper feature "Earthwatch" reported in July that Brazilian angler Nathon do Nascimento choked to death on the Maguari River when a six-inch-long fish jumped into his mouth while he was yawning. And aircraft were grounded for three hours one day in July at the airport in Vaernes, Norway, because a queen bee had landed there, drawing about 25,000 bees with her. And power failures were reported in Toledo, Ohio, in June (millions of mayflies smothering a power plant); Spotsylvania County, Virginia, in July (a black snake short-circuiting a power line); and Charlottesville, Virginia, in July (an iguana on a power line).

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd