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News of the Weird

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Ribbed for their pleasure: British Army officers examining highly motivated potential recruits in the Commonwealth's Pacific island of Fiji reported in November encountering an alarming number of the men with marbles sewn under the skin of their penises, apparently to heighten pleasure during sex. According to an Agence France-Presse report, Capt. Sarah East said that the marbles were not an automatic disqualifier.

Recent rages:Sheila Raven Lord, 49, stabbed a companion with a steak knife because he was humming a Megadeth song louder than the Celine Dion song she was listening to (Glenview, Ill., November). And George Krushinski was charged with planting small bombs in a mailbox and a letter carrier's vehicle because a weekend carrier had been leaving Krushinski's mailbox door down (Lexington, Ky., November) ("I've warned you bastards many times about leaving my mailbox open," Krushinski wrote, "(and) now you will pay.") And high school student-musician Trevor LeBlanc won $25,000 in a lawsuit against his band director, Tom Cole, who, at the 2001 Tournament of Roses Parade chewed out LeBlanc for wearing the wrong-color socks (San Diego, November) ("I ought to wring your (expletive deleted in original story) neck," Cole reportedly said as he grabbed LeBlanc by the throat.)

Killer python: Several news outlets in Johannesburg, South Africa, reported in November that, in front of several witnesses, a 20-foot-long African rock python swallowed a 10-year-old boy in the brush near Lamontville (which is near Durban). Some experts, including snake park owner Craig Smith, said the evidence and the witnesses' accounts were credible, especially since the snake had probably recently awakened from hibernation and was famished. According to the boy's terrified playmates, it took about three hours for him to completely disappear.

Awesome, dude!: Police in Fulton, Ky., investigating a marijuana-smoking complaint by William Hainline's neighbors in September, found dope burning on a backyard grill with a large fan on the other side of the house sucking the smoke through the home (in effect, said Police Chief Terry Powell, "turn(ing) the house into a large marijuana bong"). Hainline said he was merely having a 52nd birthday party, but police seized four pounds of marijuana.

God's will be done: (1) "It isn't easy, but God said to [beat them]," testified former nun Lucille Poulin, before being convicted in October of assault in the harsh disciplining of children at her commune (Charlottetown, P.E.I., Canada). (2) "[G]od became my art agent. He basically gave me ideas," said Thomas Kincade, the pop artist who has sold $450 million worth of machine-produced paintings in 13 years, to the chagrin of art purists (Morgan Hill, Calif., March). (3) "God brought me down here," said Angel DeGroff, auditioning in November to be one of the competitors in the next round of the TV show "The Bachelor" (Hales Corners, Wis.).

A new trickle-down theory: News of the Weird has reported several times on men either killed or injured falling down embankments at night after stopping their vehicles on the side of the road to seek a secluded place to urinate. In September, Rick Schultz, 34, and James Esposti, 21, were taken to Punxsutawney (Pa.) Hospital after being knocked down when their Ford Ranger truck coasted backward into them while they were urinating at the side of a road.

My lips are sealed:The art of protest by sewing one's lips together is apparently becoming more popular. A 34-year-old man in Estonia, facing a charge of setting a Mercedes-Benz on fire, showed up in court with stitched lips in May. And in June, 50 refugees, held at the Woomera detention center in Australia, sewed their lips shut to emphasize their hunger strike as they lobbied for asylum. And a 39-year-old man from Iraq with bright red stitching on his lips was picked up by police from a city square in Zurich, Switzerland, in September (but he was unable to tell police what he was protesting, if anything).

Also, in the last month ... : A leading British plastic surgeon said that human face transplants will be possible within a year (although the recipient would not necessarily look like the donor). A community redevelopment agency announced it was evicting 40 Hispanic migrant workers the week after Christmas, with no relocation assistance, so that Habitat for Humanity could build low-income housing on the site (Palmetto, Fla.). An inmate returning to jail from his day job at a recycling center tested higher than 0.20 blood-alcohol, gained by mustering last drops from all the empty liquor bottles he sorted (Charleston, W.Va.).

2002 CHUCK SHEPHERD

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